The numbers of children in Bolton living in poverty has increased placing the town in the top 15 for children living in badly disadvantaged households.

Bolton is placed 12 in the UK with more than a third of youngsters living below the poverty line.

A household is considered to be in relative poverty if its income is below 60 per cent of the current median average.

Just over half, 52 per cent, of all UK local authorities have seen an increase in the proportion of children in child poverty since 2019/20, while around nine in 10, 91 per cent recorded a higher level in 2022/23 than in 2014/15.

In Bolton the latest figure of children in poverty was 36.7 per cent in 2022/23.

The figure is up from 32.7 per cent in 2019/20 and from 24.7 per cent in 2014.15.

The data has been released by the department for work and pensions.

Children who grow up in poverty and rely on free school meals are less likely to go into higher education than their peers, according to the department for education.

Cllr Sean Fielding, the Bolton Council cabinet member for adults, health and wellbeing said: "This is another measure where the numbers are going in the wrong direction, not just here but nationally too.

"When I was appointed as cabinet member for adults health and wellbeing, among the briefings I received was a graph showing that life expectancy was going down in Bolton, and had been since 2010.

"Very professionally the council officers said 'something happened in 2010 which sent life expectancy in the wrong direction'.

"Although they're not allowed to do politics and say, we all know that the thing that happened was the election of a Conservative Government.

"Whether the measure is child poverty, life expectancy, absolute poverty, real terms wages or anything else, the evidence is clear - electing Conservative politicians makes you poorer, sicker and shortens your life."

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Julia Simpkins, the assistant district secretary of the National Education Union, explained how poverty affected children.

She said: "Children cannot concentrate in schools if they are hungry or if they are cold.

"We have seen more and more children coming to school who are hungry and who do not have the right clothes, especially in winter, girls have been coming to school in little summer dresses.

"It was decades ago we set up breakfast clubs to make sure children had something to eat before coming to school.

"A lot of children rely on free school dinner was the only meal that they get.

"During the school holidays, particularly the summer holidays, that becomes much harder.

"A lot of parents have to send their children on the bus to the town centre to get food  which a lot of them cannot afford to do."

Responding to the figures, the Government said it was helping people on the lowest incomes with a range of measures, including boosting benefits and pensions, extending the household support fund and introducing the biggest ever rise to the national living wage.

The worst area for child poverty was Pendle with a rate of 43.2 per cent.

The other areas with a worse rate than Bolton were Oldham, Birmingham, Leicester, Blackburn with Darwen, Nottingham, the City of London, Hyndburn, Burnley and Stoke-on-Trent.