Press release

£32 million of compensation available for victims of asbestos related cancer

Victims of diffuse mesothelioma and their families may be eligible to receive compensation averaging £125,000.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government


The new compensation scheme for diffuse mesothelioma, a cancer caused by exposure to asbestos, has paid out over £15 million in its first 7 months. But the Department for Work and Pensions says there are hundreds more victims who may be eligible for compensation and is calling for them to come forward, estimating that £32 million could be paid out by the end of March 2015.

The new package of support – funded by the insurance industry – opened in April this year. It is designed to provide compensation for people suffering from diffuse mesothelioma, or the families of those who have died from the disease.

It is estimated that every year 300 people struggle to find a relevant party to sue for damages, because companies become insolvent or insurance records cannot be found.

DWP Minister, Lord Freud said:

For years, many victims of this truly terrible disease have been failed by successive governments and the insurance industry. We are ending an injustice that has left many victims and their families without financial support.

This scheme is already up and running but we know that there are many more victims and their families who could receive compensation averaging £125,000 and I encourage them to come forward.

Compensation packages include a sum that can be put towards the payment of legal fees and are made directly to individuals. And the scheme has been designed to accept direct applications, to enable people to apply without the aid of a solicitor. In these cases, the individual would keep the money intended for legal fees.

The scheme is available for sufferers of diffuse mesothelioma who were diagnosed after 25 July 2012, or families of sufferers who have died, and who can’t trace a liable employer or an employers’ insurer.

Technical regulations laid in parliament earlier this month come into effect today, giving government powers to collect the funds for the scheme from eligible insurance companies based on their relative market share.

The department today announced that the estimated costs of the scheme in the financial year 2014/15 will be £32 million. This amount will be payable by active insurers by the end of March 2015 as this is a demand-led scheme the final costs for the first year of operation may vary from the £32 million estimate.

Men over 65, who worked in the building industry when asbestos was used extensively, are now among those most at risk of mesothelioma.

Details on the Government compensation scheme and how to apply are available at and on 0131 331 9090

More about diffuse mesothelioma

Diffuse mesothelioma is a cancer of the lining of internal organs, such as the lungs, and almost always arises from exposure to asbestos. Life expectancy from diagnosis is 8 to 9 months on average.

Diffuse mesothelioma takes a long time to develop – it is sometimes 40 to 50 years after exposure before symptoms appear – which means that some workers were negligently exposed to asbestos at work but their employers are no longer in existence to make a claim against. Insurance records from the time are also often incomplete.

The new scheme will pay those who develop diffuse mesothelioma as a result of negligent exposure to asbestos at work and are unable to claim compensation because they cannot trace a liable employer or employers’ liability insurer. The scheme applies to people diagnosed with mesothelioma from 25 July 2012.

The number of diffuse mesothelioma deaths increased to 2,535 in 2012 from 2,311 in 2011. This was largely due to an increase in male deaths aged 65 years or older (Mesothelioma register).

In 2012 there were 2,126 male deaths and 409 female deaths.

The number of new cases of mesothelioma assessed for Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (IIDB) has increased from 2,125 in 2012 to 2,145 new cases in 2013.

Other DWP schemes which make payments to people who contract diffuse mesothelioma:

  • The Pneumoconiosis etc. (Workers’ Compensation) Act 1979 provides lump sum payments to workers with certain dust related diseases (including diffuse mesothelioma), whose employer or insurer cannot be traced. On average these payments are £18,000 for diffuse mesothelioma claims.

  • Part 4 of the Child Maintenance and Other Payments Act 2008 provides lump sum compensation for all diffuse mesothelioma sufferers, regardless as to whether the disease was caused through exposure to asbestos in employment or not – these payments are £20,000 on average. £9.4million worth of payments were made in 2013/14.

Read the written ministerial statement announcing the estimated levy amount.

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Published 28 November 2014