Families had to spend an extra 26pc on childcare last month as parents returned to the office, further squeezing finances and worsening the cost of living crisis.
A mass shift back to the office in March caused spending to rise at one of the fastest rate on record and higher than any other household cost, figures from Nationwide Building Society have shown.
Nursery prices have hit an all-time high and two-thirds of parents now spend more on childcare than mortgages or rent, a survey of 27,000 parents by campaign group Pregnant Then Screwed and website Mumsnet found last month.
Nationwide said spending on fuel, mortgage payments and broadband also rose sharply. Drivers spent an extra 16pc on fuel in March alone while spending on motoring rose 20pc.
Consumers have turned to discount stores, spending an extra 18pc in such shops as budgets became squeezed, the building society’s data showed.
Credit card debt has also piled up, with households using their cards 17pc more last month than in February. However, more consumers have been hit with interest charges as the cost of that debt rises. Almost £55 for every £100 held on credit cards is now incurring interest – a figure that rose each month in the three months to January, the latest data from banking trade body UK Finance showed.