South Dorset general election candidates have shared their thoughts on how to tackle child poverty as figures show shocking levels within Weymouth and Dorchester.

A report by the Trade Union Congress (TUC) says that 4,050 children in Weymouth and Portland - a total of 30 per cent - are living in poverty as a result of increasing housing costs.

The most deprived wards are Underhill (41 per cent child poverty after housing costs), Weymouth East (39 per cent) and Melcombe Regis (39 per cent).

The TUC published figures this week – however a study by charity End Child Poverty earlier this year, reported in the Echo, contained the same data.

Conservative candidate Richard Drax questioned the timing of the TUC report but said: "I have been working with many organisations looking at a whole range of issues and there is of course always more than can be done and will be done if I and a Conservative government are re-elected. The vital task is to encourage more businesses and jobs here and there are some very encouraging signs that this is happening."

Independent candidate Joseph Green said: "As a lecturer at Weymouth College I have experienced first hand students considering quitting their course because they simply cannot afford not to work. If elected I would like to provide more funding for schools and colleges, specifically so that they can provide sufficient bursaries which can be used to help fund the students cost of living, and ensure that no student has to drop out of education because of their financial constraints."

Liberal Democrat candidate Nick Ireland said: "I will prioritise tackling child poverty by supporting the ending of the unfair benefits cap and abolishing the cruel two-child limit for Universal Credit.

"It is obscene that in modern society we have families relying on foodbanks and the five-week wait for benefits is a key driver of food bank use. This will reduce to five days under a Lib Dem government, together with the restoration of Work Allowances and the introduction of a second-earner Work Allowance."

Green Party candidate Jon Orrell proposed a system of universal basic income to alleviate child poverty.

He added: "Also ending zero hours contracts and creating wealth through a Green New Deal, founded on investment and support for expanding new technologies will improve family income. Children in poverty need homes in the first place; we would build more social housing.

"Pay ratios across the economy are deeply unfair, making a mockery of the idea that your pay is linked to the contribution you make. We will tackle this inequality by ensuring that the maximum pay ratio in an organisation is 10:1 between the best and worst paid."

Labour Party candidate Carralyn Parkes said: "Our programme to lift families out of the cycle of poverty and debt starts with paying a real living wage of at least £10 per hour to boost household income, and to stop the rollout of Universal Credit. Housing cost is a major burden, so we'll build decent, affordable, homes to rent. We'll provide 30 hours a week of free child care for all 2-4 year olds, and free school meals for all primary school children. Child poverty isn't just about a lack of money, it's about being denied the opportunity to live up to your full potential."