A bank holiday seaside trip is now out of reach for one in five families because their incomes are so low, children's charity Barnardo's has warned.
Even cutting out all but the basic costs, the poorest families would have too little disposable income to be able to afford a city-to-coast visit, Barnardo's research showed.
The charity found that a family of four going, for example, from Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire to the Dorset resort of Bournemouth would need to fork out £172, with a trip from Bristol to Weston-super-Mare costing £40.80.
Barnardo's said that, as the minimum disposable income for the poorest 20 per cent of families was £39, such trips would be unaffordable. The charity's calculation was based on a family-of-four day trip to the seaside, taking in the cost of the cheapest rail fare, a fish-and-chip meal, sun cream and ice-creams.
The cost did not include the cost of swimwear, towels, buckets and spades, armbands or inflatables.
Barnardo's said: "Research shows that the poorest families have too little money to cover basic weekly living costs – let alone a trip to the beach.
"The incomes of the UK's poorest families have declined in recent years. They have been hit hard by a toxic mix of rising living costs and working and non-working benefits cuts. Welfare reform has included measures that break the link between benefits and inflation."
The charity said 20 per cent of households currently bring in less than £423 a week and its calculations showed that – after covering basic living costs – a family of four on this income could not afford a seaside trip in any location surveyed.
Barnardo's chief executive Javed Khan said: "Family holidays have a special place in the childhood memory box, and every child deserves to have a day out once in a while, no matter what their circumstances.
"Whatever the weather, a day at the seaside with the family is a day to treasure. It is an opportunity for children to spend a healthy, happy time and experience a British cultural tradition – to play on the beach, splash in the sea and build sandcastles.
"It is an opportunity every child should enjoy," Mr Khan added.
"The Prime Minister has put family life at the heart of government and promoted the 'staycation'. Yet for hundreds of thousands of families struggling to make ends meet this weekend, a trip to the pier is but a pipe-dream."