UK Government

Department for Work And Pensions: Increased payments for mesothelioma sufferers

Press Release   •   Feb 26, 2010 10:07 GMT

People suffering from mesothelioma will be given more financial help, the Government announced today.

Lump sum payments from the 2008 Mesothelioma Scheme will increase by around 40% from April  to the same level as those paid under the Pneumoconiosis etc. (Workers’ Compensation) Act 1979. This will mean that individuals who develop the disease from asbestos exposure outside the workplace will receive the same payment as those exposed at work.  People can develop the disease if, for example, they lived close to an asbestos factory or by washing their partner’s clothes if their partner was exposed to asbestos.

Sufferers currently receive a minimum payment of £8,197 from the Mesothelioma Scheme. This will rise to £11,678 in April. The maximum payment will rise from £52,772 to £75,176.

The Government will also increase payment levels under the 1979 Act by a further 1.5%, even though the retail price index showed negative growth.

Payments to the family of someone who dies of mesothelioma and other dust-related diseases will also receive an additional increase in their awards. Currently these payments are made at a much lower rate than those made to sufferers during life. To help families cope with the effect of the disease on their loved ones, dependants will now receive an increase of up to £5,000, to bring the rate of payment between sufferers and dependents closer together.

DWP Minister Bill McKenzie said:

“Mesothelioma devastates lives and causes great suffering to hundreds of individuals and their families. I am pleased to announce that from April everyone who suffers from this disease will receive the same payment wherever they were exposed to asbestos, providing a substantial increase for those who developed the disease outside the workplace.

“We recognise that the terrible effects mesothelioma can have on families who have to cope with the effect of the disease on their loved ones, witnessing their pain, suffering and, ultimately, their death. They will now receive an extra amount to help them through these extremely difficult times.”

The 2008 Mesothelioma Scheme was introduced to provide up-front financial support to those people who previously were not eligible for help from the Government’s other compensation schemes.

In the first 12 months, 630 people have benefited from the scheme.  A similar number of people are expected to benefit each year from the increase in payments.

The new payment rates will apply to claims from sufferers where the diagnosis of mesothelioma is given on or after 1 April 2010. They will also apply to claims made by dependants where the date of death occurs on or after 1 April 2010.

The Government also recently announced that thousands of people with serious industrial diseases who miss out because they cannot trace their employers’ insurance records should be given additional help to be able to claim civil compensation.

The DWP set out plans to create an Employers’ Liability Tracing Office to help people track down their employers’ liability insurance policies, and an Employers’ Liability Insurance Bureau to provide a fund of last resort for those who are unable to trace them.

Notes to editors

1. The Pneumoconiosis etc. (Workers’ Compensation) Act 1979

The Pneumoconiosis etc. (Workers’ Compensation) Act 1979, pays lump sums to people with certain lung diseases, including mesothelioma.  It helps workers who became ill years after they develop certain dust-related diseases as a result of their employment, and are unable to pursue claims against their employers because they have ceased trading. This meant that people who developed mesothelioma, but not as a consequence of their work, were not eligible for a payment.

2. The 2008 Mesothelioma Scheme

The 2008 Mesothelioma Scheme provides a lump sum payment for all people with mesothelioma who previously were not eligible.  They might have lived near to an asbestos producing factory, or been exposed to asbestos by washing the clothes of a family member who worked with asbestos or been self-employed.

The 2008 Mesothelioma Scheme is a self-funding scheme. Payments made are met by money recovered if a civil damages claim is subsequently successful.

When the 2008 scheme was introduced, the Government set the payments at a level consistent with the amount it expected to recover, which was a lower rate than the 1979 Act. However, it made clear its intention to bring payments to the same level as those under the 1979 Act at the earliest opportunity, which it is now doing.

Payments under either scheme are made according to age at the time of diagnosis.

3. Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is a cancer of the lining of the lungs or abdomen, and is associated almost exclusively with asbestos. It is invariably fatal, and the time between diagnosis and death is on average about 9 months.

There is often a long time between exposure to asbestos and the development of mesothelioma. This varies from a minimum of about 10 years upwards, the average interval being in the order of 30-40 years.

The number of mesothelioma deaths in Great Britain has risen substantially over the last 30 years and continues to rise. In 1968 only 153 died from mesothelioma. In contrast, in 2005 there were over 2,000 deaths. The incidence of mesothelioma is expected to peak between 2010 and 2015. Between 2006 and 2020 it is expected that up to 30,000 people will die of the disease in the UK.


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