SICK and disabled people in Halton are struggling with delays in benefit payments, claims an advice charity.

Almost 2,000 people have turned to Citizens Advice Halton with problems about Personal Independence Payments (PIP) since the benefit was introduced three years ago.

In April 2013, PIP replaced Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and it is designed to help people with a disability or a long term health condition with the extra costs they face.

However, claimants across Runcorn and Widnes have been left without money they desperately need.

One woman turned to the charity in despair after waiting more than six months for her PIP medical assessment.

The arthritic sufferer found it almost impossible to stay in work because her condition had deteriorated so much.

Hitesh Patel, chief executive of Citizens Advice Halton, said: “Too many sick and disabled people are being let down by PIP failures and a growing number of people are turning to us for help as they struggle to get the benefit.

“Problems with PIP not only cause unnecessary stress but can also put people’s financial security at risk and jeopardise their ability to stay in or return to work.

“The Government needs to make sure the PIP application process is quick and effective, and that medical assessments get it right first time to avoid delays.”

The charity has received 469 complaints from people about their eligibility for PIP, 268 problems about making claims and delays and 143 challenges and appeals.

The demand for free and independent advice is growing fast Citizens Advice Halton is looking to recruit more volunteers.

No prior experience is needed because a full training programme is provided. Anyone interested in joining the charity can call 0151 257 2449 or e-mail