The Government is increasing payments from £115,000 to £123,000 for a new compensation scheme for victims of the fatal asbestos-induced cancer mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma has struck many Wiltshire workers. Last October a coroner ruled that Keith Collett, a Chippenham electrician who worked at Westinghouse for 43 years, died due to asbestos exposure.

Mr Collett, who had also worked at the factory in Melksham, died at his home in Little England aged 84.

In many cases victims cannot trace a liable employer, or an employers’ liability insurer, and the scheme, which comes in to effect in April, means they can apply to the Government for compensation packages worth an average of £123,000. 

The Government has increased this from the initial £115,000 debated in the House of Commons in January after making savings in the administration costs of the scheme.

Around 3,500 victims of the aggressive cancer or their families can apply for compensation from next month and will receive a payment of around £123,000 from July this year, as part of a £380 million package.

Mesothelioma, which often takes 40-50 years to present symptoms after exposure to asbestos, has resulted in over 300 people every year struggling to find a relevant party to sue for damages, because companies become insolvent or insurance records go missing.

Mike Penning, Work and Pensions Minister, said: "This will end years of injustice for mesothelioma victims and their families - who have had to endure this terrible disease with little hope of any compensation from the insurance industry.

“We have made it an absolute priority to bring in the scheme as soon as legislation will allow, so I am pleased to announce that victims will be able to apply for payments from next month.”

The Mesothelioma Act was passed in January and allowed for the creation of a new package of support – funded by insurance firms – to pay in excess of 800 eligible people in 2014 and 300 every year after that, until 2024.

Victims, or their dependents (where the sufferer has died), will receive substantially higher payments than the statutory schemes currently operated by the Government. They will also get an additional £7,000 towards legal expenses.

The claims handling company Gallagher Bassett has been appointed to run the compensation scheme.