The HSE released a short report this morning which notes that there were 2,538 mesothelioma deaths in Great Britain in 2013. Although unconnected, some recent Parliamentary responses by Ministers have offered indications of the level of activity under the payment scheme set up by the Mesothelioma Act 2014.
On 1 July the HSE released short report “Mesothelioma in Great Britain 2014: mesothelioma mortality in Great Britain 1968-2013”. The HSE’s report states that there were 2,538 deaths in Britain in 2013 (2,123 male, 415 female), a similar figure to that in recorded 2012. There were 2,145 cases of mesothelioma assessed for industrial injuries disablement benefit (IIDB) in 2013. The chart below from the report illustrates this data and HSE’s projections.
The report observes that the “pattern of increasing death rates in older age groups and decreasing rates in younger age groups over time is consistent with an epidemic as it approaches its peak.” Detailed statistics will be updated in October 2015.
In a recent Parliamentary response, Defence Minister Earl Howe pointed to an estimate that around 2,500 Royal Navy veterans will die from mesothelioma between 2013 and 2047, with two thirds of the deaths likely to occur in those aged 80 or over. He also noted that service personnel are not covered by the Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme (DMPS) set up by the Mesothelioma Act 2014.
An unconnected response by DWP Minister Baroness Altman on 18 June gives some detail about the DMPS and is worth quoting in full (below). She added, on 23 June that the DWP will publish statistics about the number of DMPS applications made in 2014/15 “in due course” and that it will “consider a review of the estimates made in the Impact Assessment in light of this data.”
“No actuarial calculations were carried out in relation to the payments that would be made by the Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme. The tariff table, which sets out the rate of payment according to age at diagnosis, is based on an average of similar payments made under civil compensation.
The Impact Assessment published in March 2014 estimated that £93.7m would be paid out by the Scheme in the first year of its operation, and £412.4m would be paid out over the first 10 years.
Initial application volumes were lower than anticipated so the amount levied on the insurance industry for the period 2014/15 was £32m. It is too early to estimate what the application volumes will be over the next 10 years given volumes received to date. As this is a demand led scheme, the calculations for the levy are done afresh each year. An upturn in applications to the Scheme would result in a higher levy rate in future years.”
In addition to financial analysis, the impact assessment mentioned by the Minister refers to the DMPS as being “closely linked to a number of other initiatives to reform the way mesothelioma claims are dealt with which are being taken forward by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ)”.
In fact, some 15 months on from the publication of the impact assessment, there are no obvious signs that the MoJ is taking forward any changes whatsoever in this field.
The apparently linked initiatives – fixing legal costs, introducing a dedicated pre-action protocol and an electronic notification portal, ending the recovery of success fees and ATE premiums in these claims – simply appear to have fallen away after last October, when the MoJ lost a judicial review of its attempt to bring mesothelioma claims within the scope of part 2 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act.