The area was a district in its own right, within Strathclyde Region, from 1975 until 1996. Prior to 1975 was in the former county of Renfrewshire, comprising the burghs of Greenock, Port Glasgow and Gourock, and the former fifth district of Renfrewshire. Its landward area is bordered by the Kelly, North and South Routen burns to the south west (separating Wemyss Bay and Skelmorlie, North Ayrshire), part of the River Gryfe and the Finlaystone Burn to the south-east.
It is one of the smallest in terms of area (29th) and population (27th) out of the 32 Scottish unitary authorities.
According to research by the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, Inverclyde residents enjoy the second-lowest life expectancy in the UK, with only Glasgow City having a shorter projected lifespan per resident. The average Inverclyde male lives for 70.3 years, with females living 78.1 years.
Following the Council elections of 2007, the new composition of Inverclyde Council is:
The provost is Michael McCormick.
Following this criticism the Chief Executive of Inverclyde Council Robert Cleary stepped down and a new chief executive John Mundell was appointed. The Position of Chief Executive commands a salary of £112,000 Per Annum. There was criticism over the pension benefits the outgoing chief executive received once leaving, he was given six figure severence pay and his pension will be approximately £50,000 per annum.
As of June 2006, changes were still ongoing: Inverclyde Council altered its directorship structure by adding new corporate director positions and removing senior manager positions. It was expected that the £90,000 p/a posts will mostly be filled by new applicants, although existing Council workers were able to apply. There was some criticism with regards to the merging of council services; for instance, Education and Social Work merged and now share the same director. This was frowned upon as at the time the Director responsible for the two merged departments had an educational qualification, not a social work one.
The 2007 council elections took place at the same time as the Scottish Parliament elections. The Liberal Democrats lost nine seats; Labour gained two, but fell short of a majority. The SNP and Conservatives both entered the council with five and one seats respectively, while an independent candidate also won a place.