Lack of access to affordable childcare means low-skilled mums are being forced to give up work or significantly reduce their hours after having their second child, according to new research.

The study by the Centre for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics found having one child had little impact on whether women dropped out of the workplace, but that women in low-skilled jobs reduced their hours by an average of 18 hours a week after they had a second child.

The number of women in low-skilled roles who worked more than 20 hours a week fell by more than half after a second child.

Women in more skilled roles also reduced their hours, but only by an average of five hours a week.

The researchers say the cost of childcare is affecting low-skilled women’s decisions on whether to stay in the workplace. According to the latest figures from the Family and Childcare Trust, the average cost of a nursery place is £212 per week outside London and £284 in the capital.

The Government says it is addressing the problem of childcare cost through its scheme to double free childcare for many three and four year olds from 15 to 30 hours a week. However, childcare providers are worried that this will not be properly funded.

Meanwhile, the Government has appointed  Caroline Dinenage as the new minister responsible for childcare and early years.

Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Pre-school Learning Alliance, said: “We welcome the news that Ms Dinenage has been named as the new early years minister and congratulate her on her new role.

“With the planned rollout of the 30 hour free entitlement offer, the imminent launch of the government’s early years workforce and life chances strategies, and the publication of a revised EYFS Framework, this is clearly a time of significant change and transition for the early years sector – and one that can only benefit from positive, honest and open relationship between the sector and government.”