Something's going wrong by Nick Baty

Good news that Birmingham Archdiocese has been accredited as a Living Wage employer. While £9.50 an hour is not a princely sum, it is an improvement on the minimum wage of £8.91 for those over 23. The Living Wage provides an annual salary of just over £17,000. This isn’t enough for a 23-year-old to obtain a mortgage in most parts of the country so renting remains the only option. And renting is, mostly, much more expensive than buying.


So while Birmingham Archdiocese – alongside many other employers – has done a great thing, that won't solve the problem of the horrendous cost of rented property. Some of us are old enough to remember the halcyon days of inter-war council houses: A decent home at an affordable rent shouldn’t be just a memory or a pipe dream.


We’ve been through a rough time. There’s no doubt that the Covid pandemic has cost us billions of pounds. But, as ever, it's the poorest among us who are paying the cost. So many jobs were lost during Lockdown. And now the £20 Universal Credit top-up is to be removed. That’s a lot of money for those living hand to mouth.


So, no wonder that the St Vincent de Paul Society (SVP) is noting a surge in calls for help. The SVP was founded in days of unimaginable poverty. These days more people pay the taxes which fund our social services and our benefits system so the SVP shouldn’t need to exist. But we’d be lost without them – and so many other charitable organisations.


The sight of a parent struggling to feed their child suggests something has gone very, very wrong.


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A group of enclosed nuns often asks which movie they should watch during recreation. This is usually a two-part question: “Could you send us a DVD, please” and “Is this suitable for nuns?” They were keen to see Philomena but wanted to be forewarned. And they thoroughly enjoyed Judi Dench’s magnificent performance.


Our Ladies is on national release this week. It’s a feel-good romp set against a school choir’s trip to Edinburgh. Think Derry Girls on speed.


The girls aren’t too bothered about winning the competition. On their first trip to the big city, they’re more interested in partying, drinking and lads. It’s cringingly funny in places. But perhaps not recommended for our enclosed nuns!