Sick and disabled people are being let down by PIP failures says Citizens Advice Purbeck.

New figures reveal queries about Personal Independence Payments (PIP) have now overtaken Employment Support Allowance (ESA) as the most common problem people come to their local charity for help with, writes Community Correspondent Karen Spurr.

PIP is a benefit for people aged 16 to 64 with a long-term health condition or disability. It is gradually replacing Disability Living Allowance (DLA), except for children under 16. Since it was introduced in April 2013, national Citizens Advice has helped people with over 460,000 issues relating to the new benefit.

Citizens Advice Purbeck finds the issues people are experiencing with PIP mirror the challenges claimants faced with ESA after it was introduced as a replacement for Incapacity Benefit.

Just like with ESA, Citizens Advice Purbeck finds people are confused about whether they qualify for PIP and others are experiencing distress and financial troubles as decisions about their applications are delayed. Challenges over judgements and appeals are also increasing as many complain about inaccuracies in their medical assessment.

In one case, a woman who visited her local Citizens Advice for help with her PIP application is still waiting to hear if her claim has been processed more than 12 months later. She has also had numerous home visits and assessment appointments cancelled. The woman, who has serious mental health issues, told Citizens Advice the delay has resulted in financial difficulties and put her under a great deal of stress.

Sick and disabled people are being let down by PIP failures. Citizens Advice Purbeck regularly helps people who are finding the PIP process confusing and distressing. ESA was the biggest issue for the local service but PIP is now the number one problem.

The Government needs to simplify the process and make sure medical assessments get it right first time to avoid delays. Citizens Advice Purbeck can provide help or support with your PIP application.

Figures published in June 2015 from the Department of Work and Pensions show delays for PIP have fallen to an average of eleven weeks for new claimants. However, national Citizens Advice evidence shows some people are still waiting over a year and that delays to decisions have resulted in many people falling into debt with some relying on support from family members.