A MUM relying on Universal Credit has revealed how her 14-year-old daughter has starved herself at school in a desperate bid to help her family.

The local mother wrote a heartbreaking letter to her local councillor Chris McEleny pleading for help after finding out her child was deliberately missing out on meals.

Her family find themselves £300 worse off after being forced onto the controversial new benefit and at the same time they no longer qualify for free school meals from the local authority.

She is entitled to less money under Universal Credit but her wages are above the threshold needed to qualify for free school meals for her family.

Councillor McEleny raised the case at a meeting of the policy and resources committee and called on officials to look again at the policy for free school meals.

In the letter the mum wrote: "I used to qualify for free school meals with my working tax and child credits.

"Then I lost my job.

"I was moved on to Universal Credit and managed to get another job but I no longer meet the criteria for free school meals.

"My income is £300 a month less.

"Then I find out my 14-year-old daughter is starving herself at school and she told me she wanted to save me money."

Cllr McEleny read out extracts of the letter during a debate on the impact of Universal Credit and welfare reforms.

He added: "It is disgraceful that Universal Credit is stopping my constituent getting food at school.

"We know the problems related to Universal Credit but I wonder if there is way the council can look again at our own policy on free school meals to stop people falling through the gap."

Concerned officials said they would look into the case and the policy.

Inverclyde Council's inequalities officer Andrina Hunter, who manages its advice services, promised to help.

She said: "I would urge your constituent to contact our services and we will look at her circumstances."

Chief financial officer Alan Puckrin who compiles regular welfare reform impact reports told elected members they were not aware of a large scale problem with free school meal eligibility.

But he added: "We will look at the specific details and do our best to help.

"Our understanding is that there hasn't been a big drop in free school meals since Universal Credit was introduced but there may be people on the margins."

Mr Puckrin's welfare reform report looks at all the measures taken by the council to try to reduce the impact on those affected.

Committee convenor Stephen McCabe added: "This is why we have this report at every policy and resources meeting.

"I accept the Scottish Government has done a significant amount to mitigate what is happening and we at the council are doing what we can.

"We have to look at how best to use can use whatever resources we have.

"Our advice services do a terrific job.

Councillors around the table and across parties condemned Universal Credit and its introduction.

But Conservative councillor David Wilson, repeated his support for the policy.

He said: "Something had to be done.

"Numerous people were out of work and receiving £500 a week in Inverclyde.

"I have hard-working constituents who go out to work every day in to BAE Systems and they don't come home with that kind of money in their pocket."