The DWP announced on 25 July that victims of mesothelioma will receive help through a new support scheme with immediate effect. Government officials have estimated the new scheme will allow around 3,000 mesothelioma victims who are unable to claim compensation because they cannot trace a liable employer or employers' liability (EL) insurer to receive approximately £300 million in payments in the first 10 years. The scheme will be funded by insurers.

The scheme will come into force subject to primary legislation and membership will be compulsory for all EL insurers. However, ministers and the Association of British Insurers (ABI) have agreed anyone diagnosed with mesothelioma from 25 July 2012 will be eligible to make a claim.

Membership of the Employers’ Liability Tracing Office - which runs an electronic database of EL policies - will become compulsory for all EL insurers, including companies who have provided EL insurance in the past to ensure that where there is a liable insurer, they will pay the claim.

New measures to speed up the process of receiving compensation for all mesothelioma victims are also being introduced. The integrated package of measures will include:

  • A levy on current EL insurers to fund the scheme at an estimated cost of £25-£35 million a year
  • Changes to speed up the process of getting support to all mesothelioma sufferers, including:
    • An online portal for all mesothelioma sufferers to register claims and for the parties involved to exchange information in a secure electronic way in order to settle claims more quickly
    • Changes to the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) to support the use of a mesothelioma pre-action protocol to ensure that evidence is disclosed early
    • Improvements in providing the information held by the Government needed to support claims, including standardised medical diagnosis, employment schedules from HM Revenue and Customs and information on state benefits from the DWP
  • Addressing the civil litigation costs for all mesothelioma claims, to reflect the faster claims process and in line with the Government's wider reforms

Minister for Welfare Lord Freud said:

“We have worked tirelessly together with the insurance industry to agree this package of measures on behalf of those who face this terrible disease. The new scheme will mean that, for the first time, sufferers of diffuse mesothelioma, who cannot trace either a liable employer or employers' liability insurer, will have access to extra payments.”

Full details are available on the Department for Work and Pensions website.