The Myth of Britain’s Compensation Culture

Britain’s compensation culture could be nothing more than a myth according to new figures. A recent report has shown that the number of work claims for injuries or illnesses have dropped by 60% from 219,183 in 2000/2001 to 87,655 in 2011/2012.

These government figures were published in Hazards, a health and safety journal, and they show that even the family of someone suffering from an occupational disease are unlikely to receive a compensation pay-out. In fact, for the majority of cancers that fall into the occupational category, the chances of receiving compensation currently stand at less than one in fifty.

Editor of Hazards and professor of occupational health at Stirling University, Rory O’Neill claims those in charge are responsible for the myth of compensation culture: “The Government’s cynical promotion of a compensation culture myth means many workers who are dying in pain are also dying in poverty.”

“The Government is putting the health of the insurance industry and the safety of the most dangerous rogues in the business community over the health, safety and survival of people at work.”

Prime Minister David Cameron has been openly outspoken against the compensation culture, which he believes is “spiralling out of control”:

“It is simply much too easy for no-win-no-fee lawyers to encourage trivial claims against businesses, which end up settling out of court because it’s too expensive to fight the case. It’s a huge part of our compensation culture and it must change.”

But Frances O’Grady, TUC General Secretary, believes more should be done to fight the myth: “The government is trying to brainwash people into thinking the UK has a rife compensation culture. However, the facts tell a very different story. Even those dying from work-related diseases have precious little chance of getting a pay-out.”

Although over 4,000 workers suffer from a work-related case of emphysema and chronic bronchitis every year, only 59 of those received compensation in 2011/2012.

Those who suffer from anxiety, depression or stress related to their work have even less chance of receiving a compensation pay-out. Only 293 of the 221,000 cases in 2011 and 2012 received a pay-out.

Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Occupational Health and Safety, MP Jim Sheridan, said: “This government… is simply undermining the important issue of health and safety at work. The government’s approach to health and safety encourages bad employers.”

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