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Boris Johnson quizzed on rise in use of Moray Food Plus


By Jonathan Clark


PRIME Minister Boris Johnson was quizzed on a rise in use of Moray Food Plus on his recent visit to the area.

During a trip to Roseisle distillery on Thursday, the PM was asked about a 74 per cent rise in the use of the local food bank from April to September this year.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson tastes whisky at the Roseisle Distillery in Scotland near Moray at the start of the General Election campaign. Picture: (Stefan Rousseau/PA).
Prime Minister Boris Johnson tastes whisky at the Roseisle Distillery in Scotland near Moray at the start of the General Election campaign. Picture: (Stefan Rousseau/PA).

Richard Lochhead, the SNP's MSP for Moray, tweeted a message to Boris Johnson upon his arrival in Moray. He said: "Thanks to your Party, the number of people supported by the local food bank between April and September increased by 74 per cent to 2470. Why not use your visit to thank Moray Food Plus for all they do and hear what they have to say?"

When quizzed on the issue by the press, the Prime Minister pointed to employment figures and a shrinking gap between the rich and poor, before taking fire at the SNP.

He said: "If you look at what is happening under this government, the gap between the rich and the poor has closed the fastest ever. But also, under proposals we have just announced, we are lifting the living wage by the highest amount ever up to £10.50.

"That is to say nothing about the record lows of unemployment and the record high employment we have got.

"I can't defend what the Scottish National Party do at their level, they have very high rates of taxation and they are not brilliant at managing their part of the Scottish economy."

But his explanation did not impress Moray Food Plus itself. The organisation's chair, Kathy Ross, told the Northern Scot employment figures create a false image.

She said: "What the PM omitted was that, while we do indeed have high employment in Moray, the evidence is that part-time, seasonal work and zero hours contracts influence this figure, and that in fact we also have one of the lowest average wages in Scotland. As a foodbank we see people who are in work forced to use our services.

"His statement is part of a narrative designed to link poverty and unemployment, with the implication that poverty is a lifestyle choice. In this he is completely wrong."

Ms Ross added: "Further, the minimum wage does not cover household expenses, which is why we have, for a few years now, championed the real living wage.

"Problems with the benefit system such as the benefits freeze, which means folk don't receive enough to have a decent standard of living and force them to make choices about heating or eating, delays in payments such as the five week wait for Universal Credit, arbitrary sanctions, and reduction of benefits by repayments to DWP also push people into poverty.

"The effect of people being turned down for disability payments and having to go through an appeal process to receive what they are entitled to is also well documented.

"Hopefully the policy changes needed for food bank use to decrease will be implemented by the new UK Government."



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