THE "true extent" of Greater Manchester’s poverty levels has been revealed, with "staggering inequality" shown even in the wealthiest areas.

The areas worst affected by low wages, food insecurity and child poverty have been named for each of the city-region’s ten boroughs, and things have "likely been exacerbated by the pandemic", according to campaigners.

Not-for-profit anti-poverty organisation Greater Manchester Poverty Action said ‘urgent steps" need to be taken to tackle poverty in each of the area’s boroughs.

The group’s annual Greater Manchester Poverty Monitor for this year shows a total of 620,000 people are living in poverty in the city-region, including 200,000 children.

Its data shows a total of 157,000 Greater Manchester households are experiencing fuel poverty, around 250,000 people are claiming help towards housing costs and 20 per cent of all jobs in the region are paid less than the Real Living Wage.

The group believes that already high levels of poverty in the city region are likely to have become worse during the COVID-19 pandemic.

For instance, their figures state the number of people claiming unemployment-related benefits in Greater Manchester almost doubled between March and August 2020, rising by a huge 93 per cent.

The number of people claiming Universal Credit is known to also have gone up in every single one of Greater Manchester’s boroughs since the start of the outbreak.

According to the group’s data, each of Greater Manchester’s 10 boroughs faces its own unique set of poverty-related challenges.

Bolton has the lowest average hourly pay per person of any borough at £12.54.

Laithwaite and Marsh Green in Wigan has the highest percentage of people living with food insecurity across Greater Manchester, with 40.73 per cent of people unsure where their next meal is coming from.

Tameside has the lowest percentage of children deemed to be "school ready" – a key indicator of poverty levels – with just 56.3 per cent of boys are deemed to be "school ready".

In Oldham, Werneth ward has a staggering 66.2 per cent of its children living in poverty.

Manchester has the highest percentage of residents living with fuel poverty of any borough, with 15.5 per cent of residents struggling to heat their homes or get hot water for washing or cooking.

In Trafford, almost half of the children in Clifford ward are living in poverty, with 48.2 per cent affected.

In Stockport, even in the area listed as the least affected by child poverty, Stepping Hill, almost one in every five children is living under the breadline with 18 per cent struggling.

Now, campaigners are calling for tackling poverty to be at the heart of a recovery plan from the pandemic.

Graham Whitham, director of Greater Manchester Poverty Action, said: “The Poverty Monitor highlights the worrying scale of poverty across our city-region. Even before the pandemic, Greater Manchester was home to some of the highest rates of poverty in the country.

“Covid-19 has hit the poorest communities hardest, and so will the economic fallout. It is vital that tackling poverty is put at the heart of the recovery.

“We need action from central government to provide a platform on which we can tackle poverty locally.”

The Poverty Monitor also reveals "staggering inequalities" within Greater Manchester and within individual boroughs.

The group said even those Greater Manchester boroughs that are perceived as more affluent have high levels of inequality within them.

Greater Manchester Poverty Action is warning that both the short and long-term consequences of the pandemic will hit those on the lowest incomes hardest.

Mr Whitham added: “It is important that we do everything we can locally to tackle the issue.

“A number of the city region’s boroughs, including Salford and Manchester, have anti-poverty strategies in place. However, tackling poverty needs to be at

the heart of Greater Manchester’s recovery plans and more action is needed to reduce and prevent poverty.”

A spokesperson for the government’s Department for Work and Pensions said: “There are 100,000 fewer children living in absolute poverty than in 2009/10 and making sure every child gets the best start in life is central to our efforts to level up opportunity across the country.

“We have already taken significant steps to do this by raising the living wage, ending the benefit freeze and injecting more than £9.3 billion into the welfare system to help those in most need.”