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September 30, 2008

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New payment for mesothelioma sufferers

A new lump-sum payment will be made to all people in the UK who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, a fatal asbestos-related disease, even if they were not directly exposed to asbestos in the workplace.

The Child Maintenance and Other Payments Act 2008, which comes into force on 1 October, introduces a new scheme that breaks the link between workplace exposure and asbestos.

The Government says payments will be made by the Department for Work and Pensions within about six weeks to those people who are not currently eligible for help, such as the self-employed, those exposed to asbestos environmentally, and family members exposed to the substance on workers’ overalls.

It is estimated that up to 600 people will receive an average £10,000 each during the first two years of the new scheme’s operation. The amount paid will vary according to the age of the individual at the date they were diagnosed with the disease.

Health and safety minister Lord McKenzie said: “Mesothelioma causes untold suffering to individuals and families. But people should not have to worry that they or their family will have to wait years before they receive any payment.

“We are committed to ensuring that everyone with mesothelioma can receive the payment they deserve, irrespective of their employment history, and we now expect to be able to make the first payments before the end of the year.”

A spokesperson for the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) welcomed the Government’s initiative, but added: “We would now like to see greater assistance for those sufferers who are unable to claim proper compensation because they cannot trace the insurers of the employer who exposed them to asbestos. To this end we are asking the Government to establish a compulsory register of employers’ liability compulsory-insurance policies.”

According to the DWP, mesothelioma is now the most common cause of work-related death. It is estimated that up to 30,000 people will die of the disease in the UK between 2006 and 2020.

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