Robert's Weekly Swindon Advertiser Article - 12th August 2015

As readers of the Swindon Advertiser will have seen this week,, a lifeline has been offered to sufferers of the so-called 'Swindon disease' Mesothelioma after the Government decided to make it easier for victims and their families to pursue compensation in court by not applying court fees to their claims.  Mesothelioma is a dreadful cancer that is caused by exposure to asbestos.

I have taken a close interest in this issue, having known sufferers of the disease and their families.  Mesothelioma has touched many families in our town due to our history of heavy industry and a greater exposure to asbestos.

When we look back, if we knew then what we know now, different measures would have been taken to protect the many workers and families that have been affected over the years.  As a result of a number of successful cases, establishing a link between Mesothelioma and conditions at work has become much more straightforward.

The issue that often causes complication is the need to track down those retaining responsibility towards former employees.  Because of the passage of time, many insurance companies have been merged or taken over, so are the work of tracing their current identity is vital.  I am hugely sympathetic to the plight of people who are unable to trace a liable employer or insurer against whom they can bring forward a claim for this terrible disease and strongly supported the introduction of a special compensation scheme for victims in this position back in 2013. 

I warmly welcome the Government's recent announcement that eligible individuals can now expect to receive a payment of 100% of an average civil claim under the scheme, as a result of raising the payment rate from 80 per cent of average civil damages.  This will mean as much as an extra £54,000 for many claimants, which is good news.

It is encouraging to see that the Government is taking important action to help Mesothelioma sufferers and their families in Swindon.

More positive news arrived last week in the form an in-depth report called British Living. The report, compiled by property firm CBRE, explores key indicators including house prices, wages and population across 29 of Great Britain’s towns and cities, and revealed that the economy in Swindon is expected to grow by 30% over the next decade. 

I am proud that my constituency has one of the strongest economies in the region. Since 2010, unemployment has fallen dramatically and opportunities for young people via apprenticeships, new school and college facilities in Swindon have increased as the falling youth unemployment figures show. Thanks to the myriad of large, medium and small enterprises that fill our industrial estates providing more jobs and growth, Swindon is a town on the up.

More than £750 million worth of regeneration funding has been secured, including a new bus station – demolition work has already begun on the previous building – in addition to over £100m to improve our roads and local infrastructure. Hundreds of families in South Swindon have benefited from the Help To Buy scheme, and funding has been increased for community health services by £20m last year and this year, plus extra funding for GP services this year.

I am pleased that our town was one of four locations scoring highly in most areas and expected to benefit from the billions of pounds in investment set to pour into the region over the next ten years. Regeneration is a key part of Swindon’s local plan, and I look forward to its implementation in the coming years.

Remember, if you do have a local or national issue that you would like to discuss with me, please do get in touch with my constituency office to find out about my regular advice surgeries.