The news comes as a result of a UK-wide campaign supported by Poppyscotland and led by its parent charity, The Royal British Legion. The campaign was also strongly supported by several other Armed Forces charities, including the principal Royal Naval charities and Legion Scotland.
The Government has announced that veterans with mesothelioma contracted during their military service can now choose to receive a lump sum payment, or regular smaller payments, to help them and their families cope with the disease.
Under the new proposals all veterans diagnosed with mesothelioma on or after 16 December will be given the choice between receiving a traditional War Pension, or £140,000 in lump sum compensation.
This will help close the gap between the compensation that has hitherto been available to veterans compared with the much larger sums that civilian sufferers have been able to access.
Poppyscotland and The Royal British Legion have welcomed this move but will continue to push for a small group of around 60 veterans currently in receipt of a war disablement pension to be able to access the new lump sum compensation.
Chris Simpkins, Director General of The Royal British Legion, said: “The Royal British Legion welcomes the Government’s announcement that from 16 December 2015, all veterans diagnosed with mesothelioma as a result of service will be able to apply for a lump sum compensation payment.
“The fact that many veterans formerly received significantly less compensation than their civilian peers was in clear breach of the Armed Forces Covenant, which states that members of the Armed Forces should face no disadvantage because of military service.
“The Legion has long maintained that veterans should be compensated fairly for their suffering, and we commend the Government for taking steps to address this important issue. However, we remain disappointed that around 60 veterans who are currently in receipt of a War Disablement Pension for mesothelioma will be unable to apply for the new lump sum compensation award.
“Whilst we are pleased that the Minister has indicated that he will review special arrangements for these individuals, we urge him to do so quickly under the terms of the Armed Forces Covenant and in light of the limited life expectancies and extreme suffering of these veterans.”
The Government has said that legislative provisions will be made to enable lump sums to be paid from 11 April 2016, although payments will be backdated to 16 December 2015.
Mesothelioma is a particularly aggressive form of terminal cancer that affects the ‘pleura’ of the lungs, and which is almost always caused by exposure to asbestos. The cancer can take decades to materialise but, once diagnosed, most sufferers will have a life expectancy of only one to two years.
Further information on the government announcement is available here