The National Audit Office (NAO) is to investigate the Government’s monitoring of suicides among benefit claimants amid concerns about links between welfare reforms and declining mental health.

The NAO said it would call on the DWP to reveal what information it held on the issue, after Ministers refused to provide an MP with figures on the number of people in the welfare system who had taken their own lives.

It comes as Disability Organisations and Disability Charities raised concerns about links between welfare reforms and declining mental health among claimants, with an increasing number of self-inflicted deaths being associated with financial difficulties stemming from cuts to support.

Frank Field MP

Chair of the Work and Pensions Committee, Frank Field MP, who requested the data from ministers in a written question, said in his subsequent letter to the NAO; “I struggle to believe that, given the time it must take to put together evidence for inquests, attend court hearings, and internally review the decisions , that there is no record as such.”

He continued; “It shocks me even more that the DWP is apparently unconcerned with the most dramatic efforts of its policies and conducts no internal monitoring of the tragedies in which it is complicit.”