Victims to receive an extra £8,000 in payments

Gallagher Bassett (GB), the third party claims administrator, will be handling the Mesothelioma Scheme, which starts on 6 April.

The minister for disabled people Mike Denning announced today the payments to victims of the asbestos-related disease will increase by 7% ahead of the first payouts to be made later this year. The bill gained Royal Assent in January.

Eligible individuals can expect to receive an extra £8,000. The average payment will increase to £123,000 from the previously announced figure of £115,000, with a further £7,000 on top of this as a contribution towards legal fees.

Denning said that during the course of the bill’s passage through parliament, several MPs called for an increase in payments from 75% to 80% of average civil damages. But they were also bound to keep the levy paid by insurers below the 3% gross written premium threshold.

Over the course of the debates, a lot of attention was also given to the commercial process to select the scheme administrator.

In a statement today Denning said: “I am happy to announce that this [increase] is possible because of savings made on the administration costs of the scheme.

“The savings made through running a competitive open tender process have enabled us to raise the payment rate, while keeping below this threshold.”

Previously, the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) president Matthew Stockwell had hailed the scheme as a “valuable first step” in helping people with work-related diseases but said that victims were still being penalised by losing one-quarter of the full compensation.

About 3,500 victims of the aggressive cancer, diagnosed with the disease on or after 25 July 2012, will be able to claim as part of the £350m package.

The scheme contract win by GB follows a public tender process undertaken by The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) during the fourth quarter of 2013.

GB business development manager Greg Upcott said: “GB is delighted to be appointed as scheme administrator for the Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme.

“Between now and the scheme commencement date of 6 April 2014 we will be working closely with the DWP to finalise the application process and to ensure our systems are ready for the first submissions.”