The number of mums who stay at home with their children has fallen to a record low, prompting fears that Government policies are forcing mothers back to work.
Since official figures began 20 years ago, the number of stay-at-home mums has fallen by 850,000, and according to the Office for National Statistics, between December last year and February 2013, the number fell by 500 women a day.
Now experts fear Government policies that offer childcare subsidies to families where both parents work but no equivalent allowance to stay-at-home mums and dads are forcing parents back to work.
Lynne Burnham, from campaign group Mothers at Home Matter, told the Daily Mail: "These figures reflect a disappointing and possibly harmful trend towards the enforced outsourcing of childcare by a government which clearly does not support the aspirations of many families to offer their children a mother or father at home full time.
Recent changes to child benefit look set to exacerbate the problem. While two working parents earning a £50,000 salary each can claim £1,752 per year for two children, where one parent earns £60,000 and the other stays at home, the family is ineligible for any child benefit.
Furthermore, fewer grandparents who might previously have taken on the care of the child while mum and dad were at work are able, as the Institute for Fiscal Studies revealed yesterday that most women aged 60 are still in work.
According to the Mail, Jill Kirby, family expert and author of The Price of Parenthood, said: "A lot of mothers are having to face the difficult decision to leave their children sooner than they would want.
"It is worrying. Children are missing out on the opportunity of having their mother with them."
Have you been forced back to work earlier than you would have liked because of the child benefit changes? Leave your comments below...