Reducing incomes and pressures on the welfare system has been the cause of a massive increase in demand for charity foodbanks throughout Scotland – and Moray has been no exception to that.
On Friday the Moray Foodbank will move to new premises at Batchen Street in Elgin, where it is hoped they will better cope with the growing demand for their services.
Co-ordinator Andy Walker said: “All of us are concerned at the increasing levels of families in crisis in our region.
“Moray can be proud of an exceptionally generous response from the public – this is both in terms of donations of food and money as well as the fantastic team of volunteers who give their time and expertise.
“While we are confident that we will continue to meet demand in the foreseeable future this will be dependent on the continuing generosity of the Moray public.”
Moray Foodbank is dealing with a problem that a think-tank has said is growing on a national basis – and lay the blame firmly on the fact that 68,000 benefit claimants are having their welfare payments stopped unfairly each year.
Policy Exchange say this is the number of people who have their benefits taken away for the first time – only to later launch successful appeals against the decision.
They have published the report ‘Smarter Sanctions’ that proposes the use of benefit cards for first-time offenders so ensuring that they still have access to funds for up to eight weeks but without being handed cash.
Author of that report is Guy Miscampbell, who said: “The welfare system must have a sharp set of teeth and that is why a sanctions regime is important.
“However, it is clear there are a significant number of people who have their benefit taken away unfairly.
“Four weeks without any money is driving people to reliance on foodbanks.”
A BBC programme being screened at 8.30pm this evening – ‘Hungry Britain?’ – will say that one third of all councils in England and Wales are currently subsidising foodbanks to the tune of £3million in recent years.
Glasgow University’s Dr David Webster told the programme that there is an “undeniable link” between tougher benefit sanctions and the increased use of foodbanks.