Despite assertions in the tabloid press to the contrary, the figures for rising mesothelioma deaths in the UK are expected to peak between now and 2015. By 2020, it is feared that up to 30,000 people will have died of mesothelioma or asbestosis, as a result of the long latency period – up to 40 years or more – from initial asbestos exposure to asbestos disease being diagnosed and commencing a claim for mesothelioma compensation.

Mesothelioma sufferers can currently receive financial assistance of £8,197 under the 2008 Mesothelioma Scheme and from this April, the Department for Work and Pensions is to raise the lump sum payments to match the level paid under the Pneumoconiosis Workers’ Compensation Act 1979, by around 40% to £11,678, with the maximum payment rising from £52,772 to £75,176.

The new payment rates will also apply to new claims on both a diagnosis and the date of a death from mesothelioma occurring on or after 1 April 2010 and it is recommended that an expert asbestosis lawyer should be consulted for legal advice.

Since the 1920s and 30s, it is has been a continuing struggle to both gain recognition for the existence of asbestos-related disease and raising asbestos awareness throughout the affected heavy manufacturing industries. In 1970, the Asbestos Regulations were introduced followed by The Asbestos (Licensing) Regulations, which came into force in 1984.

Yet, in 1991 the Government announced that legal expenses paid to victims of personal injury or an occupational disease were to be limited even if they win their claim and in 1995 the proposals were finally clarified with cash limits introduced for the first time.

Now those individuals who develop mesothelioma from exposure to asbestos outside the workplace will also receive the same payment as people who contracted the disease after being exposed to asbestos at work.

Secondary exposure means developing mesothelioma even if there has not been direct working with asbestos. It is now recognised that living near to an asbestos factory or handling partner’s asbestos contaminated clothes or hair and breathing in asbestos dust can lead to mesothelioma.

The new payment scheme means that families will also receive an increase in their asbestos compensation when a close family member dies of mesothelioma with an increase of up to £5,000.