STROUD MP Siobhan Baillie's weekly column 

AS many of our readers will know, I have been campaigning for a few years now to improve childcare provision for families here in Stroud and across the country.

Local parents, grandparents and brilliant early years providers and childminders asked me to get involved with this years ago and I am glad I have.

It is an important issue but it is not the only one affecting young families. I spoke about some of the challenges at a panel event with the think tank Onward this week as we launched a project called the New Deal for Parents

Material struggles like the cost-of-living, expensive housing and childcare costs are preventing young people from having the families they want, when they want.

And when I say families, I mean everyone who wants to have one, be it married couples, same sex marriages, those cohabiting, separated families, those with fertility issues or who need a surrogate when there is an unfair postcode lottery and exclusions for help.

I said in my speech the key to families thriving, not just surviving is choice.

We need to recognise we may need to make some steady changes and some more drastic unpopular changes to unpick 30 years of changes to relationships, house prices and careers to provide that choice.

The government’s extension for subsidised childcare to ensure it is now available from a child being nine months until four is seismic and very welcome.

It was something I campaigned for and I remain pleased the chancellor listened and announced it in the spring budget last year.

This is a conversation that is happening all over the western world as birth rates plummet and populations age with the excellent advancement of health and medicines.

My MP friend on the panel said that focusing on family friendly policies may be something countries cannot afford not to do, if I can continue to do even a small amount to help more parents alongside all the other projects, I have then I think my time in politics is being used wisely.

Watch this space.