A leading Conservative MP has lent her weight to a campaign for better support for families and young people in Birmingham.
Theresa May, MP for Maidenhead, backed residents in Northfield in their campaign for improved childcare and leisure groups alongside the area's prospective Conservative Party Parliamentary candidate, Vicky Ford.
They visited My First Friend's Day Nursery and Pre- School in Rubery Great Park and Ms May said she was "delighted' to see children being taken care of in a relaxed atmosphere, but felt more needed to be done to help hardworking families.
She said: "Since 1997, there has been an estimated 22 per cent fall in playgroup and pre-school places, and a 24 per cent fall in childminder places.
"Partly as a result, Britain now has the most expensive childcare in Europe. We believe that parents should be able to choose the best childcare for their children, whether that is a formal nursery or informally with help from the extended family."
To combat this, the Conservatives have announced that a quarter of a million parents will receive up to £50 a week to help with their childcare for every child under five by 2008/09 - if they get into power at the next General Election.
Vicky Ford, herself a working mother, said: "I know how difficult it is to balance work and caring for a family. Many parents that I speak to find Labour's childcare policies are too rigid.
"They may want to work but cannot find a job that fits in with the couple of hours their child is offered each day at a nursery. This is truly flexible suggestion that will help many families in Northfield."