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Fears hundreds of Moray families are missing out on free school meals during lockdown

Councils offer support to families to provide meals during school holidays.
Councils offer support to families to provide meals during school holidays.

Concerns have been raised that hundreds of families in Moray could be missing out on free school meals during the coronavirus lockdown.

Moray Council has begun issuing supermarket vouchers to households to ensure they can continue to receive the support while youngsters are taught at home.

The scheme entitles families to £25 over 10 days with the tokens being sent to them electronically.

However, now it has been revealed that more than 400 of the e-mails to those who are eligible for the support have bounced back to the authority.

Meanwhile, requests for benefits in the region have soared from an average of 40 applications per week for universal credit to more than 500 in the last two weeks.

Requests through the system are understood to take up to five weeks to process with many also turning to the Scottish Welfare Fund, which is Scottish Government cash managed by individual councils for those in extreme financial hardship.

However, requests to that pot have also increased with 590 made in February and March alone.

Moray Council convener Shona Morrison said: “The last few weeks have been extremely challenging for all households in Moray, as we feel the very real effect of the global Covid-19 pandemic.

“No aspect of daily living is the same as it was when we entered 2020. Many in our communities now find themselves in real financial difficulty and having to rely on the benefit system to survive this crisis.”

Mrs Morrison praised the council’s income maximisation team as another group of “unsung heroes” of the lockdown while they deal with the challenge.

Meanwhile, Tim Eagle, leader of the council’s Conservative group, is encouraging those who are eligible for school meals to ensure their contact details are up to date so they can claim the support.

He said: “Moray council staff have worked really hard to contact everyone we can think of but sadly we still have over 400 families where the e-mail address we have for them are not recognised.

“We want to ensure that children and young people continue to have access to the food and nutrition they need during the Covid-19 period.”

Families who have recently changed e-mail address or phone number should contact education@moray.gov.uk to update details or call 01343 563374.

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