A CUMBRAE-based councillor has called for school meal vouchers for the island’s youngsters to be accepted in local shops to help combat the cost of living crisis.

Councillor Todd Ferguson believes the value of the voucher is being lost due to residents having to paying to get across the water to Largs shops to redeem them.

He believes being able to use them in Millport businesses such as the Premier Store would save islanders a significant amount of time and money.

Cllr Ferguson said: “School meal vouchers have always been provided by the council to vulnerable pupils during the holidays.

“However they are only able to be used in major supermarkets such as those in Largs, and that doesn’t help residents living on Cumbrae.

“Even though they have the vouchers, islanders still need to pay every time they want to go across to the mainland to use them.

“If we can get approval for them to get used in the local stores it would be a real help, and would support business on Cumbrae.”

Cllr Ferguson believes a similar problem exists in outlying areas such as Skelmorlie and West Kilbride, where residents are forced to travel to redeem any vouchers.

He explained: “While the school meal vouchers are hugely important and very welcome, if there are no local businesses that can take them they aren't doing the job they are intended to do.

“Hopefully the council can take a look at this and help islanders out during the toughest cost of living crisis in recent times."

Councillor Alan Hill, cabinet member for the islands, says he will look at the situation to see if any changes can be made.

He said: “There is no point in providing vouchers if the benefit is taken up by travel to and from the mainland.

“If there is a demand to have shops that take the voucher on the island then we can certainly look into that.”

A North Ayrshire Council spokesperson said: “When the food voucher scheme was initially introduced, we engaged with parents/carers to see how we could best meet their requirements.

“It was recognised that island communities often face higher costs and different options were considered.

“The feedback we received from families was that they preferred the larger voucher amount which could be used on the mainland, as that was where they generally do their main food shopping.

“The voucher arrangement has been in place for a couple of years, so we would be happy to engage with parents to obtain views and revise arrangements for future holiday periods, if appropriate.”