According to data obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by the Disability News Service, since February 2012, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has carried out “60 peer reviews following the death of a customer”. Internal DWP guidance advises a peer review take place when suicide or alleged suicide is “associated with a DWP activity”.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is being urged to be more transparent about investigations into deaths and suicides of people being supported by benefits that could have been associated with changes to the welfare system. The Department told the Guardian it had no plans to publish the reviews.
Tom Pollard, Policy and Campaigns Manager at Mind, said:
“We’re really concerned about these figures. Whilst the causes of suicide are many and complex, it is important to understand factors that might contribute to someone taking their own life, to help prevent it happening again. It would be helpful for organisations to see what things could be going wrong in the benefit system that could lead to these tragic situations."
“Our recent survey revealed that the mental health of many people supported by disability benefits was suffering due to being placed on generic mandatory back-to-work schemes such as the Work Programme. We also found that people with mental health problems were more likely to have their benefits cut than those with other health conditions, which can result in not only financial problems but a great deal of distress too. That’s why we’re calling for an overhaul of the system with more tailored specialised support and less focus on pressuring people into work and stopping their benefits.”