Over 250 claims are still pending to be processed by the government for victims of asbestos related diseases, and at least fifteen people have died before seeing the payments owed to them.
The information has been published by the Asbestos Victims' Support Groups Forum, which says that since the coronavirus outbreak, medical assessments have stopped for the Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (IIDB) and the Workers Compensation Scheme (WCS) despite other disability schemes functioning.
Unprocessed claims date back to January – one claimant who has been waiting since April, has so far lost up to £2280.
Asbestos is one of the most common causes of lung cancer after tobacco smoking. Many cases are due to past exposures in the workplace, which is why the schemes provide compensation.
Most deaths occur after the age of 75, and Joanne Gordon, Chair of the Asbestos Victims' Support Groups Forum, says that any delays in payment could come too late for sufferers: “We want to see the Government putting in policies to pay benefits to some of the most vulnerable people during this pandemic, those with lung conditions, and we want to see it as a matter of urgency before more people lose their lives without receiving their just entitlements.”
“The Department of Work and Pensions can give us no time scale for when face to face medicals can be carried out and, therefore, no time scale of when claimants can receive their entitlement.”
The AVSGF wants asbestos victims to have fair treatment. Other disability schemes - such as Employment & Support Allowance (ESA) - have adapted to Covid-19 for example by carrying out telephone consultations, but this has not been extended to IIDB claimants.
Asbestosis and pleural thickening are chronic and irreversible conditions, which can seriously affect normal daily life and lead to various complications which can be fatal.
There are around 270 new cases of asbestos-related lung cancer each year, and over 5,000 deaths per year according to HSE statistics. Payments have not affected victims of other asbestos terminal conditions Mesothelioma and Lung Cancer.
Asbestos Victim Support Group Forum: asbestosforum.org.uk
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