Pay-out boost for asbestos victims.
A MAJOR package of measures to benefit victims of asbestos-related illnesses was today announced.
Thousands of former shipyard and factory workers who have gone on to develop mesothelioma will see their sickness benefits rise above inflation, while bereaved families will see their compensation pay-outs increase by up to pounds 5,000.
Suffers of pleural plaques who lodged damages claims before a controversial Law Lords ruling in October 2007 will also be eligible for payments of pounds 5,000.
But campaigners have vowed to fight on to see the condition recognised as an industrial illness so that sufferers are entitled to full compensation.
The announcement, made this morning by the Ministry of Justice, also aims to make it easier for industrial disease sufferers to pursue claims and get what they and their families are entitled to.
They include: The establishment of an Employers' Liability Tracing Office (ELTO) to help people trace their former employers' insurers through a database of records.
An Employers' Liability Insurance Bureau (ELIB) will also be set up to create a last resort compensation fund for those who cannot find the relevant insurance records even with the help of the ELTO.
A world-leading network of medical research into asbestos-related illnesses will be set up, with a pounds 3m contribution from the insurance industry.Minister for the North East and Newcastle East and Wallsend MP Nick Brown, who has campaigned for decades for justice for victims of industrial diseases, said: "I welcome today's announcement by the Labour Government of a package of measures that will help the victims and families of those who are diagnosed with mesothelioma and pleural plaques.
"This is a regional issue, as the victims are concentrated largely in industrial areas like the North East and prevalent amongst communities such as the one I represent in the East End of Newcastle, which were dependent on the shipbuilding, ship-repair, heavy industry and thermal insulations sectors.
"It is also a class issue, in as much as the victims are overwhelmingly manual workers and their immediate families."
A joint statement from Blaydon and Jarrow MPs Dave Anderson and Stephen Hepburn said: "These improvements will make a huge difference in the future to anyone who is presently suffering from pleural plaques if they subsequently develop mesothelioma. "While we are pleased that thousands of people with pleural plaques, including many in the North East, will be compensated if they registered a claim before the Law Lords ruling in 2007, we cannot hide our deep disappointment that our Government has not gone further by taking action to reinstate a compensation scheme for all pleural plaques sufferers."