£7k a year to bring up a child - and that's in 'cheap' South West
The South West is one of the cheapest places in Britain to bring up a child, according to a new study which says the bulk of the cost is taken up by childcare.
Parents fork out an estimated £77,202.84 to raise a child up to the age of 11 in the South West – an average of £7,018.44 per year, according to the latest Halifax research.
Childcare costs for working parents are an average of £307.33 every month, well over half of the £584.87 total.
The region is second to only the West Midlands for the cheapest place to bring up a child and less than half London's staggering annual cost of £15,347.40.
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But the Child Poverty Action Group said other regional variations were more challenging for the area.
"Housing costs and childcare costs have big regional variations," said a spokesman. "But some costs can be more challenging in the South West too, such as running a car being a greater need than in urban areas.
"Child care costs are hard to avoid for parents who wish to access work.
"There is some help available but not nearly the level of free provision that we see in other parts of Europe, especially the Nordic countries.
"It is good to see that all the political parties are now making commitments to putting extra public investment into childcare and we believe this is best done through direct investment in free provision."
The report from Halifax showed that children cost the most in their first year, an average of £11,573, with the amount reducing with each phase of childhood.
Monthly childcare costs dip significantly once a child reaches school age, while food costs peak between the ages of two and four.
Clothes cost an average of £24.66 per month, toys £17.82, leisure and hobbies £29.15 and furniture £14.45.
Richard Fearon, head of Halifax Savings, said: "Regardless of where you live, the cost of raising a child is one of the most significant you will face.
"The South West is one of the most affordable of all regions to raise a child to high school age. Parents here benefit from lower childcare costs than many other areas of the country and, with this cost accounting for the greatest proportion of all child-related spend, this no doubt makes a significant difference.
"The amount parents in the South West spend on less essential items, such as toys, hobbies and holidays, is also much lower than some other areas. This all contributes to the fact that the average parents here will spend almost £100,000 less that parents in London raising a child to the age of 11."