Working parents are being severely hit by childcare costs, with one in 10 families of children under five, finding the lower earner brings home nothing after childcare costs are paid.
The insurance company, Aviva, also revealed in its bi-annual Family Finances Report, that one in four families with children under five, has one parent that brings home less than Â£100 after childcare costs.
The company surveyed 2,000 families with children aged 0-5 and discovered that, for all who paid for childcare, the median amount left over from the lower earner's salary is just Â£243 a month.
Four per cent of women surveyed also said they are 'paying to work', because their costs are greater than the income they bring in.
Louise Colley, protection director at Aviva, said: 'Aviva's findings paint a picture of a nation of parents struggling to keep their heads, and careers, above water in the face of rising childcare costs. There are many benefits to going to work including, in some cases better mental health for the parent and good developmental growth for children in good childcare settings.
'Parents clearly value all of these benefits, and yet it is frustrating for them to feel that, in some cases they are working for nothing once high childcare costs are taken into account. It is vital that the Government and employers understand the circumstances and needs of these parents.'
According to official figures there are 4.8 million children in the UK aged 0-5. Almost half of UK parents with children aged 0-5 said they use childcare to enable them to go out to work (43 per cent). Five out of six (84 per cent) of these parents say they pay for at least some of their childcare.
The most popular form of childcare for these parents is paid-for nurseries / out of school clubs used by 56 per cent of those using childcare. However, the second most popular form of childcare is care provided by grandparents or family members, who help out one in three families (35 per cent).
The findings echo warnings from charity Barnardo's, which revealed recently that many parents on minimum wage face paying more for childcare than they would receive in wages and benefits if they work, under the new Universal Credit, making it even harder for them to lift themselves out of poverty.
The Family and Childcare Trust, which publishes studies of childcare costs , says the average cost of childcare in the UK is Â£11,700 for a family with one child in full-time nursery and one in an afterschool club. That's 62 per cent higher than the average UK mortgage - making it the most concerning household bill for many families.
The research shows that parents choose to work while their children are young for many reasons: for mental stimulation, child development and fear of career stagnation if they take time off. A third (34 per cent) believe that children will develop quicker or learn more in a childcare setting, while 30 per cent say they enjoy the intellectual challenge and social interaction of work. A further 27 per cent say that they feel that working outside the home makes them a better, more rounded parent. Meanwhile 13 per cent say that they work in a competitive industry so don't want to take too much time off work.
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