ONE in five people living in the poorest areas of Bolton earn less than the living wage.

Union figures show that, in the Bolton South East constituency, 18.8pc of full-time workers are in a job that does not pay enough to cover basic costs.

The statistics were released by the TUC as it steps up its campaign for Fair Pay.

They also revealed 22.5pc of male employees earn below the living wage — deemed to be £7.65 an hour — leaving working people to rely on foodbanks.

Andrea Egan, assistant branch secretary of Bolton Unison said: “Unison fully supports the campaign for a living wage.

“The minimum wage introduced by Labour in the 1990s has been one of the most popular policies of any government in the past 25 years.

“Unfortunately it hasn’t kept up with spiralling living costs.

“In Bolton there are growing numbers of people struggling financially.

“Many of the people going to foodbanks are in low paid jobs, but finding it hard to make ends meet — this includes public sector as well as private sector workers.

“People cannot be working productively and effectively when they don’t know if they can keep a roof over their head.”

She added: “I firmly believe that unions must work together to campaign for a better deal for all low- paid workers.

“Our pay strategy within Unison, nationally and locally, is to try and achieve a living wage for all and, hopefully, put an end to poverty pay.”

In the case of part-time workers, half were earning less than the living wage.

In Bolton North East, 44.1pc of part-time workers and in Bolton West 57.2pc of part-time employees are in jobs which pay less than the living wage.

Nationally, one in five jobs pays under the living wage and, in the North West, this figure is around the same level — at 21pc.

Christian Spence, head of business intelligence at Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, said: “Since the recession, all people have seen significant real term pay decreases and people at the bottom of the income scale are no exception.

“The national minimum wage has fallen further behind inflation since 2008, but the chamber supports both the Chancellor’s and Low Pay Commission’s recommendation of a slightly above inflationary increase in October.

“A number of local authorities are beginning to implement the living wage.

“Whilst this will make a significant difference for those employees who receive it, local authorities must also balance their responsibilities to the electorate and business community.”

He added: “Our research shows that members are supportive of an at least inflationary increase in the minimum wage. As the labour market continues to strengthen over the coming months, we expect the coming pay rounds to begin to deliver real terms increases for employees.”