Taking time off work to have children is causing many women to end up back at the bottom of the career ladder, an expert has claimed.

According to Tanya Hine, president of the British Association of Women Entrepreneurs, the difficulties women face in this respect are "not a new thing", but rather an "ongoing problem".

She stated: "It always has been a problem that once you have children you’re normally back at the bottom of the ladder and have to work yourself back up again."

It is for this reason that some women choose to set up their own businesses, as this provides them with a greater degree of flexibility in terms of their working arrangements, Ms Hine added.

Earlier this week, chancellor Alistair Darling announced in his Budget speech that there will be a capital fund of £12.5 million set up to encourage female entrepreneurs.