In May members of the All Party Parliament Group on Asbestos met Justin Tomlinson, the minister of state for disabled people, with some of his team. The Asbestos Group raised the issue of how Covid-19 affects patients with pleural thickening and asbestosis. Most have been waiting for many months before their claims for benefit and compensation are assessed. The Asbestos Group explained that claimants can miss out on part of their compensation if they have a birthday while they are waiting. Although the government already has a record of every claim, the civil servants asked for examples.
We have an example here in the West Midlands
Neil Bishop, manager of Asbestos Support Central England, said today, “We have an example here in the West Midlands. One of our service users has been waiting now for more than 14 months to have his claim assessed! We are withholding his name at his request. In that time he has had a birthday,. This means he will have lost part of the compensation that was owing to him. His is an extreme example. But many other people have been waiting for much longer than used to be the case before Covid-19.”
Working on a solution…
In July a letter from civil servants at the Department of Work and Pensions said, “We are aware of the issues caused by the pandemic…, especially for those who have had a birthday since submitting their initial claim… We are working on a solution to ensure that customers are not unfairly disadvantaged as a result.”
This is unjust
In a statement this week, the Forum for Asbestos Victims’ Support Groups in the UK said, “Before Covid it took on average nine weeks to process benefit claims for asbestosis and pleural thickening. Why can’t this be the benchmark for making payments now? This delay is unjust.”