Labour appoints new shadow early years minister

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Tracy Brabin, Labour MP for Batley and Spen, has been appointed as shadow minister for early years in Jeremy Corbyn’s reshuffle.

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Tracy Brabin, MP for Batley and Spen, has been appointed as shadow early years minister

The role sits within the shadow education team, led by Angela Rayner, MP for Ashton-under-Lyne.

Ms Brabin was elected MP for Batley and Spen in October 2016 following the murder of MP Jo Cox. The shadow early years appointment had been left vacant for five months after Tulip Siddiq resigned from the role in January this year.

Commenting on the appointment Tracy Brabin said, 'It's an honour to be asked to serve on Labour's front bench and I'm delighted to join Angela Rayner's shadow education team. I'm passionate about all children receiving the best possible start in life and we know early years can set the tone for a lifetime so we've got to get it right. For too many parents the cost of childcare keeps them out of work, which isn't acceptable so we can and must do better.

'We in Batley & Spen know the devastating impact Tory cuts have made to Sure Start centres and the entitlement to free childcare is chronically under-funded, with provision patchy and hard to navigate. I'm looking forward to working hard to secure a better deal for parents and children.'

Leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn said, 'I am pleased to welcome Tracy Brabin to Labour’s front bench. With the Government planning to hit schools up and down the country with cuts, Tracy’s passion for children having the best possible start in life, and importance of introducing children to the arts, will make her an asset to Labour’s education team.'

Emma Lewell-Buck, MP for South Shields, retains her role as shadow minister for children and families, which she has held since October 2016.

Also joining Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s frontbench is Carolyn Harris, who has been appointed shadow minister for women and equalities.

Writing on Twitter, @carolynharris24 said, ‘Utterly delighted, officially shadow minister for women & equalities.’

Commenting on the appointment of Tracy Brabin as shadow early years minister, Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Pre-School Learning Alliance, said, ‘The Pre-school Learning Alliance welcomes the appointment of Tracy Brabin MP to Labour’s front bench. With the introduction of the 30-hours entitlement offer only a few short months away, it is essential that there is a strong opposition ready to hold the Government to account. We look forward to developing a healthy working relationship with Ms Brabin, ensuring that the early years agenda remains a top priority.’

Purnima Tanuku, chief executive of the National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA), said, ‘We are keen to work with the newly announced shadow minister for early years Tracy Brabin and welcome her to the sector. 

‘This is a pivotal year for the nursery sector, as nurseries across England are preparing to offer children 30 hours funded childcare from September.

‘Our members’ main worry is whether they can remain sustainable if they offer 30 hours. We will be sharing our research findings with Ms Brabin that show 85 per cent of nurseries are underfunded for "free" childcare, so only 44 per cent say they will participate. Despite Government promises of extra investment, average rates have only increased by 40p which is just not enough to plug the gap.

'This issue really needs to be addressed if the Government’s flagship policy is to be successful. We will be explaining our Childcare Passport proposal which is being developed in Scotland which uses existing online accounts being created for tax-free childcare to pool all support for parents with pre-school age children.

‘We will also look to the shadow minister to ensure the Department for Education fulfils the recommendations for its Workforce Strategy which aims to maintain high quality early years education and address the current recruitment crisis that nurseries face.'

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