Labour wants “big conversation” on early years as new data shows impact of Conservative cuts to Sure Start centres
Today [Friday] Labour is launching a programme of engagement events on early years to talk to families about the importance of early education and childcare services, as new data shows the Conservatives have slashed spending on Sure Start children’s centres and children under five by 40 per cent since 2015.
On a visit to a London Early Years Foundation (LEYF) nursery with London Mayor and Shadow Education Secretary Kate Green MP, Shadow Early Years Minister Tulip Siddiq MP will speak about how she wants a “big conversation” on early years, as part of Labour’s Bright Future Taskforce, working to ensure every child can recover from the pandemic and achieve their potential.
Labour analysis shows that on top of the 12,000 early education and childcare providers that have been lost since 2015, 30,000 more early years providers are at risk of closure within a year.
Millions of parents – particularly mothers – rely on formal childcare in order to work, and Labour analysis shows that 345,000 women would be at risk of losing their jobs if further childcare providers were lost.
Tulip Siddiq MP, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Children and Early Years, said:
“The early years are critical for a child’s development and childcare is a fundamental building block of our economy but, over the last decade, early years services have been neglected.
“This Conservative Government has failed to listen to families who have been unable to get the childcare, early education and wellbeing support they need.
“As we emerge from the pandemic, we need to have a big conversation with the public about how we can rebuild this essential infrastructure.”
Kate Green MP, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, said:
“The Conservatives have treated children as an afterthought throughout this pandemic, with had no plan to protect early years providers nor support the families who rely on their vital services.
“Labour wants to see children at the heart of our national recovery.
“Through engagement with parents, providers, children and experts our Bright Future Taskforce will develop a national strategy to ensure every child can recover the learning and social development lost during the pandemic and has the chance to reach their full potential.”
June O’Sullivan, CEO of London Early Years Foundation which runs the Harrow Road Nursery & Pre-School, said:
“Nurseries are important for two reasons. Firstly, they support children’s learning, especially those who are disadvantaged and secondly, they provide a vital infrastructure to the economy by allowing parents to go to work. This is especially pertinent if we are to help people out of poverty.
“Yet for many years, families have been so very badly let down by consecutive governments that have all talked about the importance of the Early Years and access to high quality affordable childcare, yet no one is prepared to fund it properly. This is despite the raft of research which shows how important it is to a child’s long-term educational success.
“We welcome the launch of this ‘big conversation’ and an actionable strategy that ensures every child can recover from the pandemic and reach their full potential.”