Equality characteristics

Data reviewed: 09/08/21

Public sector bodies need to be able to evidence that they have given due regard to the impact and potential impact on all people with protected characteristics in shaping policy, in delivering services, and in relation to their own employees. See Bolton Council's equality strategy.

Under the Equality Act 2010, there is a general duty to have due regard to the need to:

  • Eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment, victimisation and any other conduct prohibited by the Act;
  • Advance equality of opportunity between people who share a protected characteristic and people who do not share it; and
  • Foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and people who do not share it.

When considering equality, it can be useful to also consider the concept of equity. The cartoon below explains the difference well, but essentially it is the difference in focus between equality of inputs and equality of outputs. Offering everyone the same opportunity is not truly fair if other factors mean that some people are less able to take it up or benefit from it.

Equality everyone stands on 1 box but one cant see whereas equity the smallest stands on 2 boxes tallest on no boxes

Image from: Interaction Institute for Social Change | Artist: Angus Maguire.

The census is a key source of information on many of these characteristics. Results of the 2021 census are expected to be released from spring 2022. Although census data is updated less frequently, it is available at small geographical levels if this is needed. See the Neighbourhoods page of this website for this information.

The harmonisation guidance provides standard ways of asking about and reporting on many of these characteristics, which will help us accurately use information from different sources.

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According to the mid-2020 population estimates, 23% of the Bolton population are aged under 18, while 17% are aged 65+.

Also see the population section of this website.

Sex/ gender

According to the mid-2020 population estimates, 49.7% of the Bolton population is male, while 50.3% are female.

Also see the population section of this website.

Gender reassignment/ gender identity

A person whose deeply felt and individual experience of gender may not correspond to the sex assigned to them at birth, they may or may not propose to, start or complete a process to change their gender. A person does not need to be under medical supervision to be protected

Until the results of the 2021 census are released, there are no figures available about the numbers of Bolton residents who identify as other than male or female or do not identify with the gender they were assigned at birth. At Greater Manchester level, an estimated 25,000 or 1% of Greater Manchester’s population does not identify with the gender they were assigned at birth


This includes ethnic or national origins, colour or nationality, and caste, and includes refugees and migrants and gypsies and travellers

Bolton is richly diverse with over one fifth (21%) of the population from a Black, Asian or Minority ethnic (BAME) background.

The most common BAME groups are of Indian (7.8%) and Pakistani (4.3%) background; the Black African population makes up 1.2% of Bolton’s total population; 1.8% of the population is of a mixed ethnicity.

These figures are obtained from the 2011 census.

Also see the ethnicity section of this website.

Religion or belief

This includes any religion with a clear structure and belief system. Belief means any religious or philosophical belief. The Act also covers lack of religion or belief.

The most commonly reported religion in Bolton is Christian (63%), followed by no religion (17%), and Muslim (12%).

These figures are obtained from the 2011 census. The census does not attempt to collect detailed information about the nature of their belief or the extent to which people practice their religion; it only asks which group an individual identifies themselves as belonging to.

Also see the religion and belief section of this website.


A person is disabled if they have a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities

The social model of disability separates out the impairment from the environmental, behavioural or attitudinal barriers that impact on individuals; this is why we need to ask both about the health condition or impairment as well as the impact. For example a person may have a long term health condition that is well controlled with medication so they do not feel it has a significant impact on how they live their life, or equipment or adjustments may mean a person with an impairment considers they are able to do all the things they would want to do so the impact on their day to day activities is minimal.

20% of the Bolton population have a long term health condition or disability which limits their day to day activities a little or a lot; so are considered to be disabled under the Equality Act. 10% of the Bolton population have a long term health condition or disability which limits their day to day activities a lot. These figures are obtained from the 2011 census.

Breakdowns of who has registered as being blind or partially sighted with Local Authorities in England is available from NHS Digital

Marriage/ Civil partnerships

In 2018, 637 marriages took place in Bolton, 616 to opposite sex couples, and 21 to same sex couples. No civil partnerships took place in Bolton in that year. From 2011 census data, 47% of the Bolton population were married, 0.2% were in a same sex civil partnership (opposite sex civil partnerships were not available at that time), 34% were never married or civil partnered, 10% were divorced or had a dissolved same sex civil partnership, 3% were separated but still legally married or civil partnered.

2011 census: Marital and civil partnership status

Dataset: Marriages in England and Wales

Dataset: Civil partnership formations

Sexual orientation

Until the results of the 2021 census are released there are no reliable figures available about Bolton residents' sexual identity. The experimental estimates produced for Bolton by the ONS in their work on 'subnational sexual identity' are noted to be 'unreliable for practical use' due to small sample sizes.

At North West level, 2.2% of the population identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual (LGB). Younger people are more likely to identify as LGB than older age groups.

ONS pages on sexual identity

Pregnancy and maternity

Using mid-2020 population estimates there were 3,748 individuals were under 1 year of age.

NHS Digital Maternity Services Monthly Statistics provides a range of information including births per month at the Royal Bolton Hospital.

Also see the population section of this website.

Caring status

11% of the Bolton population provide some form of unnpaid care, while 3% provide 50+ hours of unpaid care a week. These figures are from the 2011 census.

Socioeconomic status

A person’s socio-economic status (SES) is based on the type of work they do, or what they used to do if they are retired. It is similar to the concept of 'social class' previously used. It is measured by the National Statistics Socio-economic Classification (NS-SEC).

Using 2011 census data, 8% of Bolton residents aged 16-74 fell into the highest NS-SEC group - 'Higher managerial, administrative and professional occupations'; 48% into 'intermediate occupations'; 29% into 'routine and manual occupatons'; and 7% into 'never worked and long term unemployed. These figures are broadly similar to those seen for Greater Manchester as a whole.

Often we use deprivation to approximate for SES as we can obtain this from knowing where someone lives. However deprivation is an area based measure rather than an individual or household measure as SES is. Deprivation is most often measured by the Indices of Multiple Deprivation (IMD)

Using 2019 LSOA population estimates, 25% of the Bolton population live in an area that is among the 10% most deprived nationally, while 56% of the population live in an area that is among the 30% most deprived nationally.

Also see the deprivation section of this website.