Single parents pay a staggering £185,413 to raise a child, research claims today.

The bill for lone parents to raise a child from birth to age 18 is almost £33,000 higher than for couples, the Cost of a Child in 2020 report said.

The authors said single parents pay more because transport and other fixed costs are shared between fewer people, and therefore more attributable to the child.

The "basic" cost of raising a child over 18 years - including food, clothing, birthday presents and a week’s holiday in the UK a year - is said to be £71,611 for a couple or £97,862 for a lone parent, the report said.

The "full" cost over 18 years, including rent, council tax and childcare, is said to be £152,747 for a couple or £185,413 for a lone parent.

Single parents spend nearly £33,000 more than couples on raising a child to the age of 18

The estimated cost has risen by 11% since 2012 for single parents and by 7% for couples, the research claimed.

Researchers did their sums by calculating the difference the child’s presence makes to the overall family budget.

They said paid childcare now makes up 56% of the cost of a child for working couples - up from 41% since 2012.

The report by Prof Donald Hirsch, Director of the Centre for Research in Social Policy at Loughborough University, was funded by the Child Poverty Action Group.

CPAG chief executive Alison Garnham said it showed the £20-a-week ‘Covid bonus’ in Universal Credit must not be scrapped in April.

Sources confirm Chancellor Rishi Sunak is open to the idea of extending the £20 boost but has not ruled out scrapping it.

Ms Garnham said: “If Covid-19 has taught us anything it is surely that anyone can fall on hard times. Anyone can need a safety net.

“In the interests of protecting our most vulnerable children from the lifelong effects of poverty, the £20 ‘Covid-19 bonus’ should be retained.”