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Fast-track cash for sick miners.

Byline: By Gayle Tomlinson

Fast-track comp-ensation payments will drop through the letterboxes of hundreds of North East former miners within the next two months.

More than 6,000 ex miners in the region are expected to be sent an offer of between pounds 1,400 and pounds 12,900 within the next 12 months.

Previously it was feared sick miners would have to wait until 2011 before they would see even a penny in compensation from the Government.

So far only a handful of claimants have been sent the fast-track offers but within the next two months the Department for Trade and Industry (DTI) expects to send out 2,000 offers per week across the UK.

More than 100,000 people nationally are expected to be offered a fast-track payment.

The level of payment falls into three categories depending on how much the claimant has been affected by coal dust.

The cash will be given to miners who opt for a breathing test to monitor the loss of lung function.

The fast-track rates follow a ruling made by Sir Michael Turner, the judge who oversees the claims process.

Anthony Patterson, head of coal miners' claims at Thompsons solicitors, said: "Over the next 12 months it is possible a significant number of cases will be removed from the system.

"The DTI hopes to have all offers out to individuals that qualify within the next 12 months."

Mr Patterson added that former miners who think they fall within the fast-track scheme will be sent their offer by the solicitor dealing with their case.

More information on the scheme is available on www.dti.gov.uk/coalhealth.
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Mar 21, 2005
Words:274
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