to be honest id recomend you spend as much as you can on a secondhand canon 400d or the like (nikon are also excellent), they are getting really cheap and ive seen them going for around the £200 mark.
When used in auto mode they give fantastic results in anyones hands. Dont be put off by all the wild n crazy features...youll probably never need them, whereas having the ability to buy various lenses in the future is a major bonus.
They really are simple to use
The battery life is fantastic giving around 400- 500 pics+ between charges too