ACTION must be taken to help Inverclyde recover from the double blow of 116 deaths during the Covid-19 outbreak and a swathe of job losses warns a list MSP.

Labour's Neil Bibby has challenged ministers to invest in the area urgently.

Inverclyde remains disproportionately affected by the pandemic, with 14 deaths per 10,000 of the population, the worst rate in the country.

It also has seen an increase of more than 800 people forced to claim Universal Credit as the economy suffers and jobs are lost.

MSP Mr Bibby says 'additional targeted support' is required to help the district recover and rebuild.

He said: "We’ve already seen an increase of 12,520 in the number of Universal Credit claimants in West Scotland compared with this time last year and this is set to rise further.

"In Inverclyde that number has increased by 745.

"We need action from the Scottish Government to protect jobs in Inverclyde.

"We cannot allow for the west to be left behind as we emerge from the worst of this pandemic."

The MSP raised his concerns with the economy secretary Fiona Hyslop in an exchange in parliament.

He added: "I’ve directly challenged the Economy Secretary to introduce new regional equality targets so the areas hardest hit by the COVID health crisis and the areas with the highest levels of unemployment and redundancies get additional resources.

"We need real and urgent action now to close the gap between Scotland’s regions."

Minister Fiona Hyslop told the MSP she would consider the request.