February 23, 2019

Wallsend asbestos widow Chris Knighton welcomes new rules for asbestos compensation

Asbestos-related cancer sufferers are to receive up to £54,000 extra under new compensation rules brought in by government

Asbestos widow Chris Knighton has welcomed new rules for asbestos compensation.

The government has announced that asbestos-related cancer suffers are to receive up to £54,000 extra in compensation.

Under new rules for the government’s Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme, compensation will rise to match 100 per cent of average civil claims, up from the current 80 per cent, which could mean an increase of up to £54,000 a person, according to Ministers.

The change has been welcomed by Chris, who has dedicated her life to campaigning to help those affected by the deadly condition since her husband Mick died from the asbestos-related cancer mesothelioma in 2001.

The Mick Knighton Mesothelioma Research Fund, based in Wallsend, North Tyneside, has raised more than £1m for research and supported hundreds of people.

Chris, 68, said: “I feel very pleased. It has been a long haul for this to come about and it does give people the opportunity for compensation that would otherwise not have had.

“There is still a long way to go and sadly this decision should have been taken a long time ago as those with mesothelioma don’t have the luxury of time.

“Those with the condition want to know that their family will be financially provided for when they are no longer here and this is why the new rules are so important.”

Chris Knighton
Chris Knighton

Those diagnosed with asbestos-related mesothelioma from February 10 2015 will benefit from the payment increases.

Mesothelioma is a cancer affecting the lining of internal organs such as the lungs, which is usually connected to exposure to asbestos.

The North East is a blackspot for the disease, because asbestos was used in shipbuilding, construction and the automotive industry.

Ministers introduced legislation in 2013 to provide payments to those who cannot trace their former employer’s insurer.

But the compensation on offer was lower than the average compensation people would expect to receive by going through the courts – and MPs have been campaigning for the payments to be increased.

The Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme has already paid out over £19m in its first 10 months of operation.

Work and Pensions Minister, Lord Freud said: “For years, many victims of this truly terrible disease have been failed by successive governments and the insurance industry. With this scheme we are continuing to help the many victims and families that mesothelioma has left without financial support.

“From today we are raising compensation payments to 100% of average civil claims. 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.

“Though the majority of suffers are able to claim compensation through the liability insurance held by their employer, a significant minority cannot.

“Due to the length of time between asbestos exposure and cancer diagnosis, many employers and their insurers no longer exist and so the liable successor organisations are often untraceable.”

Blaydon MP Dave Anderson
Blaydon MP Dave Anderson

Blaydon MP Dave Anderson said: “I’m delighted to hear this news, this is what campaigners have asked for many years.

“At last people who were denied justice by dilatory ex-employers and their friends in the insurance industry will be properly compensated, it’s long overdue but welcome.”

Around 2,100 people in the UK are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year. It is almost always fatal with most of those affected usually dying within twelve months of diagnosis.

A ‘standardised mortality ratio’ (SMR) is used to identify blackspots, where a figure of 100 would be the expected number of deaths, given the age of the population.

But in North Tyneside the figure is much higher, at 309, and in South Tyneside it is 303, reflecting the high incidence of mesothelioma in those local authority areas.

Across the Tyne and Wear Metropolitan County the figure is 235 and in the North East it is 170.

Ministers said the number of people claiming compensation under the scheme had been higher than expected.

Mesothelioma is almost always caused by exposure to asbestos, a soft material that used to be widely used in building construction as a form of insulation and to protect against fire.

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Wallsend asbestos widow Chris Knighton welcomes new rules for asbestos compensation

Asbestos payout scheme 'does not go far enough'

Campaigners for Hampshire victims of asbestos exposure have welcomed a controversial scheme that will land victims an average of £126,000 compensation but say the measures do not go far enough.

Payouts to people diagnosed with mesothelioma, or the families of those who have died, are on course to reach £32m in their first year.

The scheme was launched earlier this year, aimed at helping victims unable to trace the employer who exposed them to the deadly asbestos dust, but critics say it is the product of a “cynical deal” between insurers and the Government.

Figures in Hampshire, particularly Southampton, Eastleigh and Gosport, are well above the average number of deaths caused by the condition.

Lynne Squibb, co-founder of Hampshire Asbestos Support and Awareness Group, said the scheme would help victims but criticised its shortcomings.

She says one of the main problems is that only victims diagnosed after July 2012 will receive payouts, denying help to huge numbers of cases.

Lynne said: “We were incredibly disappointed that it only covers mesothelioma, and it doesn’t cover people whose husbands worked with asbestos or self-employed people either. It’s not perfect and we are undertaking to work with the Government to help ensure that the scheme improves.”

Mesothelioma is a cancer of the lining of internal organs, typically the lungs. It can take 40 years to develop after exposure – but then kills within nine months, on average.

Hampshire is a renowned black-spot, because asbestos was used in shipbuilding, construction and the automotive industry.

Southampton Itchen MP John Denham said: “I think it’s long overdue.

“I am pleased that it [the money] has been coming through and it has been a long struggle for money that could have helped to ease people at a very difficult time at the end of their lives.”

By October, after seven months of the scheme, 232 applications had been received and 131 payments made, totalling £16.5m.

Mark Harper, the minister for disabled people, said the total amount that insurers were expected to pay out in 2014-15 was £32m, based on the first payments.

He said: “I am proud of what Government and stakeholders have achieved in delivering the Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme.”

Nearly 2,400 people, mostly men, die from mesothelioma every year.

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Asbestos payout scheme 'does not go far enough'