The changes to the scheme give it similar features to one for civilians, underlining the government’s commitment the Armed Forces Covenant. The Covenant is a promise from the nation ensuring that those who serve and have served are treated fairly.
Mesothelioma is a cancer mainly caused by exposure to asbestos some 40 years or more before diagnosis and there is a short life expectancy afterwards. As such, it is important to ensure the MOD offers the right support to those affected by this disease.
The War Pensions Scheme provides weekly or monthly payments and also pensions for dependents. However, comparisons have been made with the recently introduced Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme, which provides lump sums for eligible civilians.
The Royal British Legion asked the MOD to consider offering lump sums – the MOD has listened and is correcting the disadvantage faced by some veterans when compared to their civilian counterparts.
Veterans diagnosed from today with mesothelioma as a result of their military service prior to 6 April 2005 will have the option of receiving a one-off payment of £140,000 under the War Pensions Scheme. Claimants who prefer the current arrangements can opt to receive weekly or monthly payments.
Minister for Defence Personnel and Veterans, Mark Lancaster MP, said:
I have decided that a policy change is required to introduce enhanced arrangements for mesothelioma sufferers. These veterans protected the nation with honour, courage and commitment, and we have listened to their concerns to ensure they are treated with the fairness and respect they deserve.
Legislative provisions will be made to enable lump sums to be paid from 11 April 2016. Those choosing a lump sum whose claim is accepted prior to this date will receive the current allowances in the interim, until the lump sum is paid. The MOD’s Veterans Welfare Service will be on hand to help claimants with understanding the details and choices available.
Those currently in receipt of weekly or monthly payments – we are considering whether any further assistance by way of a lump sum can be provided to them.