|A new report has said that childcare in the UK needs to be overhauled to make it more affordable.|
According to the report by MP Elizabeth Truss, for the CentreForum think tank, the average family spends more than a quarter (27%) of income on childcare.
The Conservative MP argued that regulation should be simplified and childminders allowed to care for more children at a time, to attract higher-paid staff.
But critics have said that this could put the quality of childcare at risk.
The MP said that recent studies had shown widespread problems with quality, price and availability.
Ms Truss, MP for South West Norfolk, said the number of nursery places had increased since 1996 but that childminder places had dropped drastically in the same period to 245,000 in 2010.
The report calls for childminders to be allowed to take on more children at one time.
Under current rules there has to be one minder for every three children aged five or younger, but the report says this ratio should be changed to one adult for every five children aged five or under.
It also called for a single funding system and for childminders to be able to register with a local agency, nursery or network which would take responsibility for inspection and training and be regulated by Ofsted.
"The coalition government has a great opportunity to simplify the provision of childcare and get better value for money for parents," Ms Truss said.
"Reform could lead to an increase in availability of flexible childcare and an end to spiralling costs."