DISABLED south Essex residents are being left with an “endless wait” to appeal decisions about their benefit claims - after wait times DOUBLED in a year.

New figures show that disabled people in the area are waiting ten weeks to appeal decisions once they are told they do not qualify for the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) - but residents claim the wait can actually be much longer than that.

Applicants who are denied PIP – which is worth up to £145.85 a week – or who are awarded less than they expected can ask for an internal review by the Department for Work and Pensions.

But residents were quick to add the wait can often be much longer, with one Southend resident stating she had just won an appeal, but had waited ten months.

Separately, a Basildon resident stated they had waited more than a year for a tribunal to be heard.

Dave Smith, of Southend, added: “We have an appeal running for PIP since February this year. The DWP have failed to respond twice and we are still waiting for the hearing date.

“The claim was made in October 2018; had an assessment and it is more paperwork sent in than pages in the bible, the PIP system is causing more stress and problems than is duly needed.”

In Basildon, people face an average wait of 70 days for a review, the same time as in Castle Point, while the wait is 68 days in Southend. This was almost double the 34-day average reported the previous year.

Disability charity Scope, which offers support to Southend residents, slammed the lengthy waits as “unacceptable” and called the Personal Independence Payment not fit for purpose.

A work and pensions spokesperson said: “We want people to get the right PIP outcome as quickly as possible.

“That’s why we have introduced a new approach to gathering evidence so that fewer people have to go to appeal, and we have recruited extra staff to help reduce waiting times.”