SOCIAL problems, crime and poor health mean Halton is one of the most chronically deprived areas of England.
The borough has been highlighted as the 14th most deprived area in the country in the Government's Indices of Depravation 2004.
For the first time, the annual report takes into account factors such as crime and the living environment as well as issues such as income, employment chances, health, housing, education and training.
Halton's poor showing could mean extra funding for the area.
Jeff Rooker, minister for regeneration, said: 'The indices should remind us that we must continue to strive to tackle variations in levels of depravation and that there is still much to do. It also shows that our resources are targeted to the right areas.
'The Government's policy will continue to aim to raise the quality of life for those in the most needy areas and thus narrow the gap between them and the rest.'
In all, 14 areas in the North West were among the top 50 most deprived, with Knowsley, Liverpool and Manchester rated first, second and third worst respectively.
Derek Boden, North West Regional Assembly leader, said: 'The league table reveals the need for concerted action to tackle regional variations. With more than a quarter of the 50 most deprived areas, including the three most disadvantaged communities in the whole country, the North West suffers more than its fair share of social disadvantage.'
He added: 'The North West Regional Assembly is working with the Government and its regional partners to tackle the complex economic, environmental, historical and social problems.'