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Demand on Moray Foodbank the largest it has ever been

By Leanne Murray

CHANGES to Universal Credit have contributed to make the demand on Moray Foodbank the largest it has ever been.

That’s according to Mairi McCallum, manager of the project on Elgin High Street, who said the facility supported 869 people in December compared to 500 in the same month in 2017. This continued into January, she said, when 459 people used the food bank compared to 290 the previous January.

According to Ms McCallum, the trend in Moray has been mirrored in other areas of the UK. She said it partly stems from six different benefits being moved to one single payment under the Universal Credit system.

She said: “In the lead-up to Christmas we experienced a much higher demand for support than ever before and we are very grateful to the Moray community for their amazing generosity, with not only their food and money donations, but for their time.

“We had a big increase in the number of people coming forward to help out at the food bank and this enabled us to deal with the high number of referrals received.

“Sadly, the new year is proving difficult for many people and this increase has continued into January. Universal Credit really seems to be having an impact and more people are coming to us because of this change in their benefit. We anticipate this trend to continue for the foreseeable future.”

The 2017/2018 financial year saw 2867 people supported by the food bank.

During this financial year, which ends on April 1, 3862 people in Moray have already used the service.

A Department of Working Pensions spokesperson said that under the new system, 96 per cent of claimants are paid in full and on time.

The spokesperson added: “The reasons for people using food banks are complex.

“Meanwhile for those who need extra support, the UK Government spends over £90 billion a year on support for those who need it, including those on a low income.”

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