Archbishop Nolan of Glasgow has said it is a ‘fundamental injustice’ that ‘working people aren’t getting a living wage.’
Speaking to The Scottish Catholic earlier this week the Archbishop reiterated his call for the UK government to raise the level of benefits in line with inflation but said ‘we then need to really look at how we reward people in our society’.
“During Covid, we were out clapping on a Thursday night for key workers,” he said.
“But they need more than a clap, they need decent pay. We’ve got a low-wage economy and people are struggling. Poverty won’t go away until we pay people a fair wage.”
Inflation has soared in the past year, stretching pay packets, with the increase in energy bills hitting household budgets hard.
“Everywhere I go people are talking about this,” the Archbishop said. “The increase in fuel costs, how it’s going to affect them and their families. It’s the hot topic and people are very worried about it.”
“For many decades the UK prided itself on providing a reasonable measure of social security to its citizens who had fallen on rough times – be that through illness, old age, unemployment or poverty,” he said.
Archbishop Nolan, who was installed earlier this year, was spurred to speak after the Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng suggested changing the way the government gives out benefits, and declined to say that benefit payments will rise with inflation.
“Guaranteeing security for the most vulnerable in society is a sign of a civilized country,” the Archbishop said. “The proposal that the poorest people in our midst – those relying on benefits – may see real terms cut in their already meagre support seems so immoral.”
He also urged all Catholics to look after all those around them amid fears that rising energy costs would leave many struggling to stay warm this winter.
“We’ve got to be doing the basics, we’ve got to looking out for each other, checking in on our neighbours,” he said.
“Catholic Churches tend to be quite big and drafty so maybe not the best place to come and get warm. But if we’ve got a Church Hall in a central location we should open it up and invite people in so they can get warmed up.”
His final suggestion was a spiritual one. “We all have to hope and pray for a mild winter,” he said.
Read the full story in the next edition of The Scottish Catholic, out this weekend.