Almost 100,000 sick and disabled people forced to wait longer than 2 weeks for benefits
Tens of thousands of sick or disabled people have had to wait more than two weeks for vital welfare payments.
A fifth of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) claims took longer than 10 working days to process in the last year - more than 90,000.
The benefit, worth up to £110.75 a week, is paid to people who have limited or no ability to work.
Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) chiefs monitor the number of claims taking longer than 10 working days.
They admit 90,100 (20%) exceeded that limit between November 2017 and October 2018.
Of those, 33,340 (7%) took more than three weeks to process.
The DWP figures were obtained by Frank Field MP, chairman of the Commons Work and Pensions Committee.
He said: "The delayed payment of benefit has become a recruiting sergeant for food banks and money lenders.
"What these horrifying figures show is that this source of injustice is not just found in Universal Credit.
"Delays across the board are inflicting misery on hundreds of thousands of people in desperate need of help from the welfare state."
Rachel Hickman of the charity Parkinson’s UK warned delays "wreak havoc" on disabled people's lives.
She said: "Vital payments are delayed, and a huge amount of stress is piled on top of handling their often already difficult living situations.
“We hope this confirmation of the staggering scale of the failure will provide further incentive for the Government urgently to work with us to improve the system and, by extension, the lives of thousands of vulnerable people.
“The Government has sat on its hands for too long - the time to act is now.”
Rob Holland, co-chair of the Disability Benefits Consortium of more than 80 charities, said: "It’s deeply concerning that close to 100,000 sick and disabled people suffer delays in payment of vital benefits.
"Close to half of those living in poverty are disabled or live with a disabled person and have little in the way of savings - delays in payment can mean the difference between making ends meet and falling short.
"We urge the DWP to up its game in 2019 and make sure disabled people get the support they need, when they need it."
The figures also show 18% of jobseekers' allowance claims were not processed within two weeks - 125,490 in total.
But only 2% of jobseekers' allowance claims were not processed within three weeks.
A DWP spokeswoman said: "We process claims as quickly as possible and the vast majority are cleared within 10 days.
"When this takes longer it is often because we are working with claimants to get more information to ensure they get the correct support."Dan Bloom, Daily Mirror