Capita has made redundant five out of its 20 investigators in its special investigation unit.

Of the five laid off, three were on long-term sick leave, said a Capita spokeswoman.

Sources said the redundancies were due to Capita "missing out on several large contracts".

The investigators made redundant are currently working out notice periods of varying lengths.

Capita also said it has created an administration office in Cheadle where the unit's six fraud technicians were to be moved. Four of the six technicians had been re-located, said the spokeswoman.

Sources said the cuts in the special investigation unit had increased the pressure on the remaining investigators to hit performance targets.

"The stress on the 15 remaining investigators is unbelievable," a source said.