12 March 2020 

INQUEST has joined 18 other charities and mental health organisations as supporters of Rethink Mental Illness’ campaign to #StopBenefitDeaths. The campaign is calling on the Department for Work and Pensions to establish an independent inquiry into deaths where the welfare benefits system may have been a significant factor and to take action to stop these avoidable deaths.


A recent report by the National Audit Office showed that the Department for Work and Pensions investigated 69 instances where people receiving benefits have taken their own lives since 2014-15. Without independent investigation and regular public reporting on these deaths, it is hard to know how many other cases there might be and what the recurring issues are. 

This campaign follows a previous petition launched in March 2019 after the death of Jodey Whiting, 68, who took her own life 15 days after her benefits were stopped as a result of missing a work capability assessment. This petition, which called for an independent inquiry into the deaths linked to the Department for work and Pensions, received over 50 thousand signatures.

We share a growing concern about the callous nature of the welfare system and the effect this has on the physical and mental health of the vulnerable individuals seeking welfare support. These processes are leaving people isolated and without crucial support.

INQUEST supports this call for an independent inquiry into deaths linked to benefit cuts. There is an inconsistent approach to the way the inquest process look at these deaths. A more wide ranging review is urgently needed to ensure the actions and inactions of the state face robust scrutiny. This process must enable the full participation of those most effected and any learning must acted upon to end these preventable harms and deaths.

Deborah Coles, Director of INQUEST

Sign the petition calling for an independent inquiry into deaths related to the benefits system. Please take action today.

“The reason so many organisations are backing this campaign is that we have seen first-hand the damage that can be done when welfare policies and processes don’t treat people with the care and compassion they deserve. It is clear we need an independent inquiry to urgently learn the lessons of these avoidable deaths.”

Mark Winstanley, CEO of Rethink Mental Illness

Further coverage

  • Charities demand probe into 'avoidable' benefits deaths. BBC
  • Disabled man dies after speaking out about his benefits being cut. Independent 
  • Charities call for inquiry into deaths linked to benefits cuts. Guardian 
  • Charities demand probe into after 69 suicides linked to DWP handling of benefits. Mirror