Parents are paying more for childcare in 2014 than they are on their mortgage, according to research published by the Family and Childcare Trust (FCT).
It shows the average cost of part-time nursery and after-school care for a family with two children has reached £7,549 - compared to the average UK mortgage repayment of £7,207 a year.
The cost of full-time childcare for the same family rises to a whopping £11,700 a year - 62% higher than the average UK mortgage - with a full-time nursery place for a child under two now costing £9,850 a year (a rise of 3.3% on 2013).
Childcare costs are also outstripping other household bills, the FCT said. Twenty five hours of childcare in a nursery for a child under two costs an average of £109.89 a week in Britain - twice the price of a weekly household food shop.
Anand Shukla, chief executive at the FCT, said: "When even part-time childcare costs outstrip the average mortgage for a family home – and many parents have to spend more than a quarter of their income on childcare – it's clear that our childcare system isn't fit for purpose.
"We need a childcare system that helps parents who want to work and contribute to the economy and gives children the best start in life. The Family and Childcare Trust wants to see all political parties commit to a long-term childcare strategy that delivers for parents, providers, and crucially, for children."
The FCT says the government should extend free early education to all two-year-olds; extend the pupil premium to disadvantaged two-, three- and four-year-olds; and increase the amount of Working Tax Credits available to parents.
In September 2013, the Labour Party said it will increase the number of hours of free childcare for working parents if it wins the next general election. Three- and four-year-olds currently receive 15 hours of free childcare a week, but Labour will up this to 25 hours for working parents. This includes single parents as well as households where both parents are working.