Kentish Town mums march on Parliament to oppose welfare reform

A group of Kentish Town mothers have held vigils outside Parliament to oppose the government’s controversial Welfare Reform Bill.

Single Mothers Self Defence, based at the Crossroads Women’s Centre in Kentish Town Road, held their eight afternoon vigil outside the House of Lords yesterday (Tuesday, February 14).

They voiced opposition to the bill, which has been defeated in the House of Lords seven times, and have vowed to continue to hold vigils every time the bill is heard in Parliament.

They also organised a letter writing campaign that led to one of their letters being read in the House of Lords debate two weeks ago.

Single mum Kim Sparrow, 49, a member of Single Mothers Self Defence, said: “There was a grandmother who had written in about how important it was to be able to be at home when she was raising her children.

“She said how it made the community safer not having children come home to empty houses.

“What is happening now is mothers are being forced out to be job seekers under the stress of having our benefits cut.”

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Single Mothers Self Defence believes benefit reforms will unfairly impact not just single-parent families but all families.

The bill would limit household benefits, including child benefits, to �26,000 and the House of Lords has raised concerns about its impact on disabled adults and children, cancer patients, single mothers and disadvantaged families.

“The government tries to label us workless, but none of us are workless,” said Ms Sparrow, who has two children and lives in Kilburn.

“Raising a family is a big contribution to society, we are raising the workers of the world.

“Our vigils are the way our community wanted to fight and we are determined to continue it now.”

Pensioners, people with disabilities, an unemployed workers group, and mothers with young children have all joined the vigils.

They are jointly organised with WinVisible, a women’s disability group also based at the Crossroads Women’s Centre.

“We are there to express the devastation and destitution that people will be under,” said Ms Sparrow.

The bill was sent back to the Lords again on Tuesday (February 14) but ministers have said they will use a rule known as “financial privilege” to ensure Parliament approves the �26,000 benefits cap.

This means the Lords cannot send the same amendments back to the Commons when they re-consider the bill for a final time.