Couples raising two children while working full-time in minimum wage jobs are £49 a week short of being able to provide their family with a basic, no-frills lifestyle, research has found.
The Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) called for an increase in the so-called national living wage to allow families to have an acceptable standard of living.
Its Cost Of A Child report, published today, showed an 11% weekly shortfall for a couple raising two children at the point they are aged three and seven.
Worse, however, was the deficit for lone parents, who fall 20% short each week of being able to provide a level of living for their children defined as acceptable by public opinion.
The charity blamed rising prices, benefits and tax credit freezes, the bedroom tax and the roll-out of Universal Credit for hitting "family budgets hard".
CPAG chief executive Alison Garnham said: "There is strong public support for Government topping up the wages of low-paid parents and investing in children is the best long-term investment we can make.
"By using the forthcoming Budget to unfreeze benefits and restore work allowances, the Government can take steps towards making work really pay."
Gains from increased minimum wages were offset by a freeze in tax credit support, the research said.
The findings did, however, show an improvement on last year, when the family with an 11% shortfall would have found themselves with a 13% deficit.
The overall cost for a couple raising a first child until they are 18 fell from £155,100 to £150,800.
A Government spokeswoman said fewer are living in absolute poverty today, and ministers are committed to giving every child the best chance.
"The employment rate is at a near-record high and the national living wage has delivered the highest pay increase for the lowest paid in 20 years, worth £2,000 extra per year for a full-time worker," she added.