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THE debate about food banks rages on with most organisations stating there is a link between recent welfare reforms and benefit cuts and more people asking for help.

The UK Government and the Department of Work and Pensions however continue to deny there is any causal link between the two, even though some people are being referred to food banks directly from their offices.

The latest comments from a DWP director suggests that because there is free food on offer more people will take advntage of it, but that ignores the fact that people can't just turn up at a food bank and ask for a bag of groceries.

They are referred by official agencies like social work and Citizens Advice and cannot repeatedly access a food bank.

The Welfare Reform Committee has heard of people walking for miles with children for help because they are desperate and of people handing back food which requires heating because they have no money for electricity.

If that sounds like people "maximising an economic opportunity" as Mr Couling of the DWP said then perhaps he should take the advice of the MSPs on the committee and go and speak to these people in person.

Then he might see the reality and the hardship some are facing.