CHILDREN living in Birkenhead are among the poorest in the country, a new study has revealed.

A report from the End Child Poverty campaign shows that the town is among the top 20 parliamentary constituencies in the UK for youngsters living below the breadline.

According to the research, which was released this week, 36% of children there are living in poverty  - a drop of 3% since 2011.

Among the worst-hit areas are Bidston and St James ward where more than half of youngsters are poor while a figure of 48% was recorded for Birkenhead and Tranmere ward.

More than a third of children in Leasowe and Moreton East were seen as poor last year while the figure was 43% for Seacombe.

However the study also highlighted stark contrasts between parts of the borough, with Wirral West seeing a figure of 14% while Wirral South was 13%.

The richest children were in Heswall where just five per cent were living below the poverty line while there was eight per cent in Hoylake and Meols.

And Birkenhead MP Frank Field said action needs to be taken now to stop the cycle of poor children becoming poor adults.

He is hoping his 'Springboard' scheme, which aims to educate deprived families and improve life chances, will go some way to stop Birkenhead children being among the poorest in the future.

Mr Field said: "The key thing here is that the figure has gone down since 2011.

"But people need to be much concerned about the life chances of poorer children and how we can improve them and that is what Springboard is all about.

"Although there is a huge difference between different parts of Wirral, it is more worrying that unless we try something different, we will be seeing similar figure in 50 years’ time.

"We want to stop poor children from becoming poorer adults and give mums and dads, who want to be good parents, the chance to do just that and to educate them."

Overall, 25% of children were living in poverty across Wirral, according to End Child Poverty, meaning the borough is above the national average of 20%.

Neighbouring Liverpool had an overall rate of 33% but Cheshire West and Chester recorded just 16%. And Marie Corran, assistant director charity Barnardo’s, said the Government needs to act to help families who are struggling to make ends meet.

She said: “These figures show just how many children in the region are living in poverty and these children’s life chances risk being compromised by our nation’s failure to tackle child poverty effectively.

“The reasons for children and families living in poverty can be varied and complex however there are often some common themes. One of the key reasons in why these figures are so high in this region is the number of children in workless households.

"Wirral has the second highest concentration of worklessness in disadvantaged communities in England. The rate of people claiming workless benefits in the most deprived neighbourhoods was 37.9% in February 2010.1 Birkenhead Ward has an overall unemployment rate of 35%, with male unemployment at 52%.2

“The Government must act now to end child poverty by providing practical help to the people who need it most, taking steps to bring down energy bills, tackle family debt, and make childcare more affordable.”

Commenting on the figures, Enver Solomon, chairwoman of the End Child Poverty campaign, said: "The child poverty map reveals the depth and breadth of child poverty across the country showing the gross levels of inequality that children face in every region.

"Far too many children whose parents are struggling to making a living are having to go hungry and miss out on the essentials of a decent childhood that all young people should be entitled to. 

"The huge disparities that exist across the country have become more entrenched and are now an enduring reality as many more children are set to become trapped in long term poverty and disadvantage."