THE council leaders says an extra £250,000 in funding for frontline local alcohol and drug services will not be enough to reduce the death toll in Inverclyde.

In response to the large number of people losing their lives in the area, the Scottish Government has allocated the area additional money.

But Councillor Stephen McCabe says it comes after years of cuts to frontline addiction services and that the scale of the problem is now so vast that they cannot cope.

The district's MSP has meanwhile hit back and blamed the council for failing to make a 'special case' for more money in the past.

Mr McCabe said: "All extra funding for our alcohol and drug partnership is welcome but thousands here and thousands there is really not going to make a dent in the problem.

"The scale of the problem is too great after years of cuts.

"The cuts we have faced to frontline services have had an impact - it meant, for instance, we would not be able to look at funding more residential places.

"We have had to do more with less."

A total of 33 people died due to drugs in Inverclyde last year.

This means the area has the third highest rate in the country.

There were 32 deaths caused by alcohol, following the biggest rise in that grim statistic in a decade.

Inverclyde has been awarded extra money for residential rehab, family and outreach work, to tackle overdoses and help run supported living schemes.

But Councillor McCabe believes this is just tinkering at the edges of a much more fundamental problem.

He told the Telegraph: "What we need is a way to end poverty and deprivation.

"We are looking at an intensive pilot project that will take everything into account with the hope of tackling not only addictions but employment and housing."

But the SNP's Stuart McMillan MSP today defended the Scottish Government - and accused Mr McCabe's local authority of failing to make the case for additional support.

Talking about alcohol deaths extra funding, he said: "The previous Cabinet Secretary for Finance informed me that special case had never been made by Inverclyde Council.

"I will work with others to help our community and lobby that Inverclyde needs more finance to help deal with long standing and deep rooted issues we face.

“Make no mistake, alcohol and drugs issues Inverclyde faces have not happened overnight.

"We have had them for decades."

Cllr McCabe insists local politicians 'have repeatedly made the case' for Inverclyde to get extra assistance.

He added: "The previous finance secretary's constituency included part of Inverclyde, so I would be surprised if he was not aware of the difficulties faced in the area."