Asbestos victims to get increased pay-outs – but MP says more must be done

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INCREASED compensation payments to asbestos-related cancer sufferers has been welcomed by Hartlepool’s MP.

But Iain Wright said the changes announced by the Government do not go far enough to give justice to sufferers of the “horrible” condition.

The Government has announced that compensation through its Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme will rise to match 100 per cent of what the victims would have received through a civil claim, compared to 80 per cent currently.

The scheme helps victims to be compensated where they can no longer track down the employer or insurer of the victim.

Mr Wright described the move as a “step in the right direction” but said more work needed to be done.

He said: “Hartlepool is a hotspot given our industrial heritage for chest-related illness of asbestosis and mesothelioma which are horrible and nasty diseases and victims deserve as much justice as possible.

“This announcement is a step in the right direction, but it is just a step.

“If you look at the detail, there is still more work that needs to be done.

“I’m concerned it does not go far enough to help constituents of mine who are suffering from this awful disease.”

Mr Wright said the compensation increases will not be back-dated and said it only applies to victims aged under 40.

“Given the nature of the disease, it is relatively rare for somebody under 40 to get it,” he added.

And Mr Wright disputed the Government’s claim that sufferers could benefit by £54,000 extra because of the changes.

He said: “The average increase is going to be around £21,000 which is very welcome but nowhere near the justice and compensation sufferers of this disease deserve.”

Work and pensions minister Lord Freud said: “With this scheme we are continuing to help the many victims and families that mesothelioma has left without financial support. It is partly thanks to the success of the insurance industry in tracing liable insurers and employers that we are able to make these changes as part of our on-going commitment to support mesothelioma sufferers.”

The scheme has paid out more than £19m in its first 10 months.