Whilst any fresh money that is made available for research into mesothelioma is to be welcomed, today’s announcement of the donations by insurers, Zurich and Aviva, to the British Lung Foundation needs to be put into context.
The BLF are to be congratulated in obtaining funds from these two companies after the protracted and clearly difficult discussions they have had with insurers.
The donations in total are £1 million over 2 years. In other words £250,000 per year for each company. This in reality is petty cash for these corporations. Aviva for instance made in 2013, £2.8 billion in pre tax profits. In the same year they donated on what they call Community Investment schemes (in other words charitable donations) £6.2 million. So £250,000 is clearly not an extraordinary sum for a yearly donation. Furthermore, these donations are eligible to be set against corporation tax, which currently stands at 21%, so the actual cash cost to these companies comes down to under £200,000 for each of them per year.
These companies may have an eye on the General Election and the possible Labour Party plan if elected to amend the Mesothelioma Act to introduce a further levy on insurers to provide for mesothelioma research funds. If Labour are elected and they were to be swayed by such donations, this would be tantamount to a sell out of mesothelioma victims. Labour, if elected in May, should go ahead with their plan, but they also need to include the savings the Government are making under the Mesothelioma Act, to boost the overall mesothelioma research funding pot of money, in order to provide for long term meaningful and sustainable research funds.