The Diffuse Mesothelioma Payments Scheme (DMPS) was established by the Mesothelioma Act 2014.
The DMPS pays compensation to mesothelioma sufferers who have negligently been exposed to asbestos by an employer, when the employer is no longer trading, and when the employer’s insurer cannot be traced. It is a ‘scheme of last resort’.
The Forum had long argued for such a scheme.
Asbestos diseases typically take decades to develop, so often the employer has ceased trading, and poor (or deliberately negligent) record keeping means the insurer cannot be traced. As result, many asbestos victims died uncompensated, with their surviving loved ones struggling financially.
The DMPS was therefore a huge step forwards for asbestos victims in this country.
However, it is our belief that more could be done.
The DMPS is funded through a levy paid by insurance companies active in the Employer Liability insurer market.
When the DMPS was established, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) claimed that insurers could only afford to pay up to 3% of Gross Working Premium (money collected from Employer Liability insurance premiums) without passing the costs on to customers.
In practice, the levy has fallen short of this 3% (it fell to around 1.7% in 2015-16, for example). Increasing the levy to at least 3% would allow for the DMPS to be greatly improved, to the benefit of asbestos victims.
When the DMPS was set up, Government committed to increasing payments under the scheme to keep up with inflation, and to reviewing payments to make sure they were keeping up with average payouts through the courts. Neither commitment has been kept. As a result, the value of DMPS payments is being eroded, year after year.
We believe that a new ‘scheme of last resort’ should be set up, funded by the levy on insurers, to pay compensation for people with other asbestos diseases when an insurer cannot be traced.
We also believe that some of the levy should be used to fund research into medical treatments for mesothelioma.