In April 2014 the Government introduced the Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme (DMPS). The scheme’s aim was to compensate those who were exposed to asbestos whilst working in the UK and were diagnosed with the asbestos related cancer, mesothelioma, after 25th July 2012 and who were unable to claim mesothelioma compensation from their former employers.
As mesothelioma, like all asbestos related conditions, has a latency period of between 10 and 50 years, by the time someone might be diagnosed with cancer, the company which exposed them to asbestos may no longer be trading. There are a number of searches solicitors can complete to try and trace insurance for a dissolved company but as records were not always kept, in some cases insurance cannot be traced. Unfortunately, without an active company or insurer to bring a claim against, a civil, mesothelioma compensation claim cannot be made. This is why the DMPS was set up.
In its first year in operation, the scheme received 410 applications with 62% being successful, 22% unsuccessful, 12 pending a decision and 2% withdrawn at the time of the first annual review of the scheme. Initially, payments to mesothelioma sufferers were set at 75% of the average Court award for mesothelioma. However, this was increased to 100% following pressure from Asbestos Victim Support Groups.
The scheme is funded by the insurance industry and began making payments to mesothelioma sufferers in July of 2014. Employer’s liability insurers pay into the scheme, relative to their market share. The initial levy paid by the insurance industry was £35million for the first year and this was based on the estimated costs of the scheme for one year.
On 12th January 2016, the new levy was announced in Parliament by the Minister for Disabled People, Justin Tomlinson:
“I can announce today that the total amount of the levy to be charged for 2015/16, the second year of the DMPS, is £23.2m. It is estimated that the full cost of the scheme in 2015/16 will be £31m, but, as the amount levied in 2014/15 was greater than the final cost of the scheme for that year, £7.8m has been carried forward into 2015/16. The £23.2m will be payable by active insurers by the end of March 2016.”
The announcement of a reduced levy has caused disappointment for asbestos victims. Graham Dring, Chair of the Asbestos Victims Support Groups’ Forum UK made the following statement:
“The Government has missed a golden opportunity to implement necessary improvements to this scheme. One of the reasons the fund was underspent last year was because of the decision to pay only 80% of average civil compensation to mesothelioma victims diagnosed before 10 February 2015.
The levy on insurers announced yesterday represents about 1.7% of the premiums they raise from Employer Liability insurance policies they sell, down from the 2.2% they paid last year. If the levy had been set at the 3% figure promised by the Government in 2014 all applicants could have been paid compensation in full from the start of the scheme. There would also be enough money left over to compensate victims of other asbestos diseases who are unable to trace a former employer or their insurer.
It is time the Government stopped prioritising the financial interests of insurers over justice for asbestos victims. They should set a levy at the rate the insurers have already said they can afford, compensate fully those applicants who only received 80% compensation and make arrangements to compensate all asbestos victims whose lives have been ruined by their employer’s negligence and Government failure to ban asbestos until decades after the dangers were known.”
It is currently unclear whether the reduced levy will be reviewed prior to the annual review but we will continue to monitor the situation and keep you updated.
If you require assistance in pursuing an mesothelioma claim please contact us today on our freephone number 0800 038 6767. Alternatively, head over to the ‘Contact Us’ page, complete the form and we will be in touch.