Analysis of official data has revealed parents of toddlers pay more for their child care than their monthly mortgage payment.
Those working full time before their child goes to school typically pay £1,065 a month for a full time nursery place and the average monthly mortgage payment is £658 and a month’s rent costs an average of £833.
Becky O’Connor of Royal London said: “Young couples rely on two full-time salaries to meet living costs before children come along.
As a result, paying for childcare puts parents at real risk of financial hardship.”
Working parents have to foot the bill for the cost of care from when their maternity and paternity leave ends until their child turns three.
But there is help available to meet the cost, even though many parents don’t claim it.
Eligible parents are believed to have missed out on £83 million in top ups in the last financial year.
The government’s tax free childcare scheme is worth up to £2,000 per year per child and £4,000 a year if the child is disabled.
Less than £1,000
Research carried out by Royal London also revealed young parents who rent have less than £1,000 a month for food, bills, travel and clothing after paying for their child care and housing.
Spokeswoman Becky O’Connor said: “The financial pressure on people with young families is immense.
With housing and other living costs being high relative to income, there isn’t the breathing room for one parent to take significant time off work to look after children that there might have been decades ago.
“Paying for childcare puts parents at real risk of financial hardship. Grandparents and other relatives often give free help, but it is hard for parents to depend on this and hard for grandparents to offer it.”
Concern is also being expressed that child care costs are set to rise in the near future.
Education charity Early Years Alliance found that nine in ten providers are planning to increase fees to cope with costs – such as the rise in minimum wages.
Coram Family and Childcare charity spokeswoman Megan Jarvie said : “The high cost of childcare can freeze parents out of work – and this is made even more difficult when families miss out on the support they are entitled to.”
For information on how to set up a Tax-Free Childcare account visit gov.uk/tax-free-childcare.