A NO deal Brexit could cost Inverclyde Council £1.1m and hit the most vulnerable people in the area hardest.

That is the grim forecast laid bare in an official council risk assessment which looks at the worst case scenario if Britain leaves the European Union without a deal.

The stark report, debated by councillors at a special meeting on Thursday, shows that local claims to the Scottish Welfare Fund are likely to increase by around 700 due to a predicted rise in the price of food and utilities.

Speaking at the special session of the environment and regeneration committee, Labour councillor Jim Clocherty said: "The people who are going to be affected the most, whether it's a deal or a no-deal Brexit, are the most vulnerable residents in Inverclyde.

"They will have no choice but to buy more expensive food, more expensive fuel and more expensive common goods.

"After 10 years of austerity, they are again going to be the hardest hit by this."

A Brexit 'cost template', produced by council officials, estimates the short to medium term impact of a no-deal Brexit on the local authority's finances over a 12 month period.

The findings show that the increase in hardship claims could cost an extra £110,000.

The council is also braced for a huge impact on social care providers, with an increase in care home rates potentially costing £280,000 a year.

It is also predicted that an additional £80,000 will be needed for home care while a two per cent increase in learning disability services would cost £170,000.

In addition, residential childcare and additional support needs placements would cost an extra £40k a year.

Council leader Stephen McCabe said: "The fundamental reality is that even Boris Johnson doesn't believe a no-deal Brexit is a good thing for the UK.

"You can talk and surmise about this great trade deal with the mad man that runs the United States of America but fundamentally, a no-deal Brexit is going to damage this country.

"We should be looking be looking to the UK and the Scottish governments to provide funding to mitigate it.

"The council should not be expected to address this and and have to dip into our funds.

"This will be an ongoing issue whether there's a deal or no-deal."

The bleak Brexit report drawn up by bosses reveals that a post-Brexit increase in utility costs could trigger an extra bill as big as £400,000 a year.

In addition, the council could also have to fork out an extra £50,000 if there was, in a worst case scenario, an increase in demand at Greenock's Ocean Terminal.

The report says: "Currently Inverclyde has a major export port in the Greenock Ocean Terminal.

"Initial suggestions are that the operators are not expecting any significant changes to the operation of the port.

"Should there be a change in the current level of imports through the port however, caused by knock on effects from congestion at southern ports, this could lead to a major resource issue for Inverclyde’s environmental health and trading standards services."

Tory councillor Graeme Brooks said the report only focused on the negative impacts of a no-deal Brexit, although he stated he was not suggesting that a list of positive impacts should be drawn up.

Council officer Martin McNab replied: "What we have been trying to do is address the risks identified in both the UK Government and Scottish Government worst case scenario planning assumptions - so the things that are significant that might happen that we need to plan for.

"We have to accept that all these things won't happen - some might and some might not.

"Some risks have already been resolved such as the flu vaccines.

"This is very much about contingency planning to mitigate any negative effects."

Councillors voted to approve the actions taken to mitigate the impact of a no-deal EU exit in Inverclyde.

Now they will wait to see what happens today at Westminster as the Prime Minister attempts to get the deal he has just agreed with the EU through parliament.

He will ask MPs to back it during a special Saturday sitting at the House of Commons.