OVER 100 local households have been left on the brink of homelessness or been evicted as welfare reforms hit families hard.

New figures show that in 2018/19 a total of 99 households were forced to seek help from the council because they couldn't afford to live in their accommodation anymore due to financial difficulties, debt and unemployment.

Seven saw their tenancy or mortgage terminated due to rent arrears or defaulting on their lender repayments.

There has been a huge surge in the number of people approaching the council's homelessness service in recent years.

In 2014-15, a total of 42 households sought help, meaning the number of cases has more than doubled.

A senior councillor says he blames the UK Government's controversial universal credit system for the spike.

The system was introduced in Inverclyde in October 2015 and around 5,700 local people are now claiming UC.

Cllr Chris McEleny says it is driving people into poverty and leaving some without a roof over their head.

He says the situation will deteriorate as the UK Government is aiming to move individuals still in receipt of 'legacy benefits' onto UC next year.

Cllr McEleny said: "Yet again we have seen more evidence that universal credit is having a harmful impact on Inverclyde.

"More people having to rely on homelessness services.

"More people put into financial hardship.

"This policy is clearly failing Inverclyde."

The Scottish Government and the council have a strategy to mitigate the impact of benefit changes and a welfare fund has been providing crucial support to local people struggling to make ends meet.

Mr McEleny says it is crucial this lifeline support continues.

He told the Tele: “Thankfully the Scottish Government understands the harm welfare reform is having on Inverclyde.

"It’s therefore vital that they continue to fund, with the support of the council, the Scottish Welfare Fund to the tune of over £700,000."

He added: "Over 1,500 people in Inverclyde also received a share of over £300,000 in carers supplements and these monies are absolutely crucial at putting money back in people's pockets that the UK Government's policies are taking out."