The Conservative party has announced plans to offer 250,000 families up to pound;50 a week to help pay for childcare.
Michael Howard, party leader, this week unveiled a scheme, "Supporting Parents", which would provide mainly lower-income families with pound;50 of working tax credits a week for every child under five.
This could be used to pay for all childcare, including informal care by grandparents or neighbours.
The scheme also includes plans to increase maternity pay by pound;1,400.
These measures will be introduced from 2008, if the Conservatives win the election.