INVERCLYDE will be £4 million worse off as a result of a 'smoke and mirrors' Scottish budget according the the council leader.

Stephen McCabe has accused ministers at Holyrood of slashing funding for local authorities in the government's draft spending plans for 2019/20.

Councillor McCabe says Inverclyde's cash settlement is £4.24m less year-on-year - a fall of 2.6 per cent.

The spending proposals have also been criticised by council umbrella group Cosla, which claims that local authorities will be £270m worse off.

The government argues that funding has actually increased by over £210m as part of a £11.1 billion package.

Mr McCabe said: "Residents should not be fooled by any claims of additional money from the Scottish Government. "It all comes with additional policies they want councils to deliver while behind the scenes the core budgets are being cut.

"We have received new money but this is all for new policy priorities, including early years expansion, delivery of the Carers Act, free personal care for under 65s and school counselling services.

"It is time to put a stop to smoke and mirrors budgeting for local government across Scotland. "The facts speak for themselves and in this allocation core budgets are going down, the Scottish Government is trying to force councils to increase council tax but capping it at three per cent. "On top of that the estimates for Inverclyde's council tax income to supplement budget cuts do not take into account anyone who needs assistance with council tax reduction.

"The council's core capital grant has also been reduced from 2018/19 by around £300,000."

As it stands, Inverclyde will receive just over £166m of a revenue budget, which covers day-to-day costs, and £11.7m in capital spending for one-off projects.

The council estimates a funding gap of more than £5m next year.

Kate Forbes, Scotland's public finance minister, said: "We continue to ensure that our partners in local government receive a fair funding settlement despite further cuts to the Scottish Budget from the UK Government. "We are delivering a funding package of £11.1 billion for local authorities next year - a real terms increase of over £210m for essential public services in Scotland.

"Inverclyde Council will receive £176.4m to fund local services in 2019/20. "Using their council tax powers they could also generate an additional £1.1m to support the delivery of essential local services, meaning an extra £3.9m next year."

MSPs will vote on the draft budget in February.