New asbestos-induced cancer compensation scheme to launch
The amount of compensation victims of the asbestos-induced cancer mesothelioma are likely to receive is set to rise, as a result of new legislation.
The Mesothelioma Act, which was passed in January, established a new support scheme to help sufferers and their families who are unable to trace a liable employer or an employers’ liability insurer. As the gap between exposure to asbestos and symptoms of the disease being spotted is typically more than 30 years, many people find themselves in this situation.
Under the initial plans for the scheme - which is to be funded by insurance companies - victims were entitled to apply for average compensation packages of £115,000. The government has now announced that the average payment will actually be £123,000 once the scheme is up and running in April. Mesothelioma sufferers, or their dependents in the event of the person having died, will also be given a further £7,000 towards their legal costs.
Mike Penning, the Work and Pensions Minister, said the new scheme would be much quicker and fairer than the help programmes previously available to people suffering from the fatal asbestos-induced illness.
“This will end years of injustice for mesothelioma victims and their families, who have had to endure this terrible disease with little hope of any compensation from the insurance industry,” said Mr Penning. “We have made it an absolute priority to bring in the scheme as soon as legislation will allow, so I am pleased to announce that victims will be able to apply for payments from next month.”
The new scheme is for people diagnosed with mesothelioma since July 2012. It aims to pay compensation to in excess of 800 people in 2014 and to a further 300 victims each year until 2024.
Use of asbestos was banned in the UK in 1999 and there are now strict laws in place governing its management in and removal from older buildings, to help prevent exposure to fibres that can lead to fatal illnesses.