MP Tracy Brabin was named as the new shadow minister with responsibility for early years today.

Ms Brabin, Labour MP for Batley and Spen in West Yorkshire, was first elected last October following the murder of Jo Cox.

Purnima Tanuku OBE, Chief Executive of 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% of nurseries are underfunded for ‘free’ childcare, so only 44% 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. 

“We look forward to discussing all these challenges with Ms Brabin, whose constituency Batley is next door to NDNA’s headquarters in Huddersfield, and hope she will bring constructive challenge to the policy debate.”