Thousands of former miners crippled by “claw hand” are to get compensation after the Government finally caved in.
After years of refusing to recognise the condition, ministers sneaked out a climbdown announcement while Parliament is in recess for the election.
From next month, pitmen who have been campaigning for five years can claim industrial injury benefit.
Maximum payout will be £179 a week but most cases are expected to fall within a range of £35 to £71.60.
Alan Mardghum, a former coal face worker and secretary of the Durham Miners’ Association, welcomed the move but said: “It is long overdue. The Tory Government has ignored medical opinion and denied people the help they are entitled to.”
Incurable dupuytrens contracture is a deformity of the hand causing one or more fingers to curl over into a claw-like, paralysed position. In extreme cases it can lead to amputation. The condition is generally caused by vibrations from using drills and other power tools.
But it can affect people in all walks of life and victims have even included ex-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher – the miners’ arch enemy in the 1980s.
The breakthrough may apply to sufferers in other industries.
An announcement that the illness will be added to the list of recognised
industrial injuries was made by a ministerial “order in council”. It was issued by the Department of Work and Pensions and did not require MPs to be sitting.
Until now ministers had refused to accept a recommendation from the Industrial Injuries Industrial Council to add DC to the list.