A CALL for a one-off payment of £250 to be made for every child in a poverty-stricken family in Inverclyde is to be sent to the First Minister, councillors have agreed.

They voted in favour of a motion by Labour's Colin Jackson for the money to be released in lieu of a coronavirus-delayed Scottish Government child payment initiative.

A move by SNP members for the council to utilise its own £1 million poverty fund to immediately introduce the government scheme was rejected.

The council will now write to Nicola Sturgeon calling for the emergency package for 'financially starved' families in Scotland's most deprived local authority area.

Councillor Jackson's motion, supported by his Labour colleague Jim Clocherty, noted that people in Inverclyde are at 'higher risk of falling into financial hardship'.

It stated that the £250 payments were needed in order to 'prevent a child poverty crisis' in the district.

Councillor Jackson said: "The Covid-19 emergency has unfortunately forced the delay of the new Scottish Child Payment and the Scottish Government won't be taking applications for this payment until the end of 2020.

"The cabinet secretary herself has admitted she can't provide a timeline for these payments, which leaves many families in desperate need of help now."

But SNP group leader Chris McEleny argues that the council could introduce the Scottish Government's £10-per-week child payment scheme immediately.

Councillor McEleny said: "Inverclyde has been confirmed as the most deprived community in Scotland, as well as being harder hit than anywhere else by the coronavirus.

"We know this will have an adverse impact on children and that's why I've been calling on the Scottish Government to create a special deprivation fund.

"However, as local representatives we need to take responsibility too and use the powers we have to tackle child poverty — not just wait on it to be done for us.

"I took the view that using our own resources to act now to put money in the pockets of Inverclyde families utilising the unused £1 million council poverty reserve was a better, and quicker, way to help families in Inverclyde than writing a strongly worded letter to the First Minister."

Mr McEleny said that The Child Poverty Action Group has described the Scottish Government scheme as 'an absolute game changer'.

His amendment put to the latest meeting of the policy and resources executive sub-committee was seconded by the SNP's Elizabeth Robertson.

Councillor Robertson said: "There was no disagreement at all with the point of helping families who have been seriously affected by the past few months.

"We just tried to take action locally sooner, rather than facing any further delay."

Councillor Jackson said: "I understand that the council is looking at measures to use our poverty fund to tackle poverty locally, so it's important we don't confuse this motion and any future recommendations that may come forward on how we use our own funds.

"This [£250] payment is strictly in response to the emergency situation families find themselves in now due to the pandemic and the delay of the Scottish Child Payment."