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Campaigners criticise asbestos compensation scheme

Posted in: Asbestos Exposure Industrial Deafness and Disease Mesothelioma 

With around 4,000 people a year dying from asbestos-related diseases, this silent killer is now the UK’s leading cause of work-related deaths. Mesothelioma, an asbestos-related cancer, was recently addressed in the Queen’s Speech as a scheme has been proposed to help sufferers. This new scheme has been presented to assist victims who are unable to trace an insurer, or employer, that is liable to pay compensation. 

However, campaigners argue that thousands of victims of other asbestos-related illnesses, such as pleural thickening and asbestosis, will miss out on the benefits of this new scheme and will receive nothing. 

The scheme proposes to offer all mesothelioma victims a fixed payout of 70% of the average compensation provided by insurers to victims who are not involved in the scheme. This will be remunerated through taxing insurance companies that stipulate employers’ liability — expected to help over 300 victims a year and cost insurers around £300m over the next decade.

Campaigners criticize this 70% cap on payouts as even the chairman of the Asbestos Victims Support Group, Tony Whitston, argues: “This scheme is not what we expected. It was presented as a fait accompli to asbestos victims and saves the insurance industry a small fortune at huge cost to asbestos victims.

As annual deaths are projected to peak in 2016, asbestos-related deaths continue to affect an increasing number of lives in the UK every year. With electricians, carpenters, and other high-risk workers living in fear for their health, campaigners argue that the government should do more for these tax-paying citizens. 

A further question is raised — is it only those victims diagnosed after 25 July 2012, when the scheme was first announced, who will be eligible for compensation. Tony Whitston continues by stating that: “The bill needs to be unpicked and repackaged if the victims’ best interests are going to be truly at its heart.”

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