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Coronavirus in Moray: Holyrood slow to give vital data to supermarkets, claims Tory MSP

By Alistair Whitfield

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Vulnerable people risk missing out on supermarket food supplies because the Scottish government is lagging behind its Westminster counterpart, claims a Tory MSP.

Jamie Halcro Johnston, whose ward includes Moray, has urged the Scottish Government to supply supermarkets with the list of Scotland’s most vulnerable people to help them prioritise delivery slots during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Scottish Government has written to around 120,000 “shielded” individuals warning of the health implications of Covid-19.

It is this information which Mr Halcro Johnston states should be shared with big supermarkets as soon as possible.

He said: "There is clearly an issue with availability of delivery slots for vulnerable customers, but the problem is not the supermarkets.

"It is the Scottish Government not handing over the information needed by the supermarkets to allow them to prioritise delivery slots for people who are clinically vulnerable and have no support network.

"Having spoken with some of the supermarkets, they have made very clear that they are ready and waiting to help.

"They are already doing so in England where that information has been made available to the supermarkets by Defra.

"But the Scottish Government seems more concerned with reinventing the wheel and doing things differently north of the border, and that is causing these unnecessary delays.

"Supermarkets have made it clear that they are just waiting for the data to come from the Scottish Government.

"Meanwhile, Scottish Government ministers publicly berate them, claiming they’re not doing enough.

"The Scottish Government needs to stop delaying, get the required data to the supermarkets as soon as possible and allow the supermarkets to do what they have been wanting and waiting to do – getting delivery slots allocated to those vulnerable people who most need them.

"Supermarket staff are working themselves to the bone to help get supplies onto shelves and out to customers.

"They have seen demand rocket, putting huge pressure on staff in stores, in warehouses and throughout their distribution network.

"But across the country, they are stepping up to the mark and we should be thanking them for that."

Richard Lochhead, Moray's MSP, stated yesterday that he had written to the chief executives of both Tesco and Asda to urge them to do more to ensure vulnerable and elderly residents can secure online deliveries.

Mr Lochhead stated that he is being indundated with calls and messages from constituents unable to get a food shop as online delivery slots at both supermarkets are full for the next three weeks.

He said: "Our supermarket workers are doing a fantastic job right now under the most difficult circumstances and I don’t think we can praise them highly enough.

"From those working in store to the folk out on deliveries, they’re all playing a vital role in keeping food on our tables.

"There are some problems though with the supermarkets capacity and I’ve had many people contact me over the last week or so who are either vulnerable or self-isolating and they just can’t get a home delivery.

"Although some people can rely on family to get essential items for them, sadly not everyone has that support available to them.

"I know many smaller local shops are doing their bit by taking orders on the phone and delivering to households in their communities, which is really great to see.

"But our supermarkets have a big role to play, given the volume of sales they account for.

"It is vital that vulnerable people in Moray can access online deliveries at this challenging time."

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