If we had £1 for every time we heard that skills shortages were holding back the UK, we’d be driving Ferraris.

But what we’re seeing now is nothing compared to what is hurtling towards us to hit in the next 20 years and beyond.

The nation’s competitiveness and economic growth, businesses’ growth, innovation and depends on having the right people with the right skills and training. Nothing works without the people.

But the mess and muddle of housing – mortgaged and rental – the cost-of-living crisis and real worries about the future means more young people are choosing not to have children – not just delaying the decision, but actively choosing against becoming parents.

Birth rates in England and Wales have fallen to their lowest levels since comparative data began in the 1930s, with the total fertility rate per woman falling to 1.49 in 2022 compared with 1.55 in 2021.

What is rising though is the number of DINKs – the Double Income No Kids. Once it was the DINKY’s – double income no kids yet. Gone is the yet, to be replaced by never.

Young people I talk to – in their late 20s and 30s - are actively against having children. Voluntary childlessness is their chosen future because they can’t envisage ever being in a position of security to afford to be parents, give their children the childhoods they had and feel ill-equipped be able to make the necessary sacrifices being a parent demands.

And it’s not just the UK where couples are deciding early that children will not be part of their life plan. About 20-23 per cent of the western adult population is estimated to be child-free, according to Queen’s University Belfast.

As it rises, workforce crises loom ahead across the western world. Addressing it demands urgency, but it feels like it’s being filed under “too difficult” in the hope miracles will happen.

Singer and actor Lily Allen has two children, but she said this week that having children had ruined her career. She scoffed at the myth young women were sold a decade of so ago that they could have it all.

Allen of all people could afford to have it all, but she wanted to focus on her children because, throughout her childhood, her parents were absent and she wanted different for her children. So her successful career was put on hold.

Others don’t have the privilege of Allen so are making their decisions based on the hard facts of money. Two salaries and childcare costs, spiralling private rents and unpredictable mortgage rates is an unaffordable equation.

Throw into the mix disparate families to support and help and a lack of community, a fear for the future of the world and, even if it felt like an easy choice, what world would they be bringing a child into, children are crossed off the lifetime achievement list.

Instead, they will have experiences to build a rich life. They will travel, volunteer and help others in the time that would have been taken up bringing up children.

There’s not the ‘selfish stigma’ they might have faced previously either. Neither is there the desire from parents of those making the decisions to be grandparents, when 70 is the new 50 and people are having to work harder and longer.

All this is fine for individuals, but, en masse, it’s disastrous for a national workforce with more skills gaps than a colander.

But minds won’t be changed while those young couples saving for mortgages while paying sky high rents, with £50,000-plus student loans and lack of job security.

Diane Abbott's treatment was sickening

Watching the UK’s longest serving black female MP being silenced during Prime Minister’s questions as other MPs talked about her hideous treatment by £10m Tory donor Frank Hester was sickening.

Diane Abbott stood up 46 times in 35 minutes to try to catch the Speaker’s eye to speak as those around her spoke about him saying that she “should be shot” and “makes you want to hate all black women.”

But her voice wasn’t heard. That was so wrong – and something very wrong in our seat of democracy that she wasn’t permitted to.

There is Parliamentary protocol for people who are listed to speak to speak but this debate was about her.

She had been the subject of such racism and misogyny, and her voice was silenced.

Standing to speak 46 times and being ignored is humiliating. Being told by Sir Lyndsey Hoyle time had run out added salt to her wound.

As was the Prime Minister’s comment that Hester’s remorse should be accepted and refusing to answer MPs’ calls to return the £10m donation.

If anything illustrated how rotten our political system has become and is long past the date for urgent reform was Wednesday in Parliament.

If only the House had shown some support for Ms Abbott, demonstrated their disgust and spoken with one voice against the revolting and terrifying statements made.

Without that united condemnation, it feels there is complicity in those abhorrent comments and almost gives licence to others with such vile views to continue spouting them.