Research by Findababysitter.com for its annual childcare report has found that 25 per cent of parents surveyed with two or three children want to work, but say that they are prevented from doing so because childcare costs are too high.
This view is held widely in large cities with 40 per cent of parents in London saying they cannot afford to work, followed by Bristol (37 per cent), Leicester (33 per cent), Glasgow (23 per cent) and Oxford (20 per cent).
Four in ten parents aged 18 to 24 and one in five unemployed fathers say they would prefer to work but cannot afford childcare costs, according to the report.
Marcus Smullen, (right), from Hertfordshire gave up his job to look after his daughter Katy, because the familiy would be better off financially if his wife Sarah returned to work.
'Because childcare for under-threes is more expensive, we have to wait until Katy turns three before I can consider looking for a job,' he said.
Asked to rank their childcare concerns in terms of importance, parents were also more worried about cost than safety. The top five concerns for parents ranked in order were cost, safety, location, availability and conscience.
Among fathers location was seen as more important than safety.
The research also revealed that more than half of parents in the UK (55 per cent) do not think the Government is doing enough to support them with the cost of childcare.
The survey of more than 1,000 parents of children under ten, and a separate online survey of parents and childcare professionals was carried out in November and December.
A Department for Education spokesperson said, 'We want to provide more help to working families to cut the cost of childcare and enable parents who want to go out to work to do so. At the same time we will take action to drive up the quality of childcare and give more flexibility to professionals to ensure that parents' hard-earned money goes further.'