Quakers voice PIP concern

Friends in Manchester and Warrington have raised concerns over the distress and hardship caused by the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) scheme

Nineteen Quakers in Manchester and Warrington have written letters to their MPs about the distress and hardship caused by the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) scheme.

The PIP benefit is designed to help with the extra costs of a long-term health condition or disability for people aged sixteen to sixty-four and is gradually replacing Disability Living Allowance (DLA).

Antony Froggett, co-clerk of Central Manchester Meeting, told the Friend the action followed a ‘very emotional and unorthodox’ Young Friends General Meeting where Quakers shared their experiences of the assessment system for PIPs.

Antony Froggett said: ‘One person was crying, and there was a lot of anger. Someone had had their PIP taken away, and we heard from a wheelchair user and someone with MS. People felt it was very important, so we took it to the Area Meeting. As co-clerk, I was asked to write to the secretary of state for work and pensions, the prime minister and three Manchester MPs.’

The Area Meeting produced a template letter for Local Meetings to send to their MPs, which people can share electronically. There was also a letter-writing session held before Area Meeting and after Meeting for Worship. The concern is coming back to Manchester Area Meeting in September.

Antony Froggett added: ‘We hope to take the concern to Meeting for Sufferings too. It’s not just a benefit issue, it’s a spiritual issue which goes to the heart of how we treat each other as human beings.

‘The government is treating people as “things” and “burdens”, and, as Quakers who believe in “that of God in everyone”, it’s our responsibility not to treat people in this dehumanising way.’

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