Angela Rayner joined a rally in Salford to demand a long-term solution to cuts to nursery provision.
The rally was organised by the Salford ‘Save Our Nurseries’ campaign and was supported by Salford MPs Rebecca Long-Bailey and Barbara Keeley as well as Salford Mayor Paul Dennett, UNISON North West Convenor Paula Barker and Steve North, UNISON Branch Secretary.
The campaign group was set up in February to save five Ofsted-rated outstanding Salford Council-run nurseries.
Mr Dennett agreed to provide funding to the nurseries until August 2019, but said cuts in Council budgets and changes to the Dedicated Schools Grant meant he could not commit to securing their future beyond that date.
Since March, unions, workers and parents have worked with Salford MPs to demand support from the Government, but despite assurances offered by Minister Nadhim Zahawi in May, no clear support has materialised.
Mrs Rayner said: “Salford’s nurseries provide a vital service to children and parents across our community, transforming the lives of the next generation by guaranteeing them an excellent education when they most need it.
“This Conservative government have repeatedly failed to give nurseries the funding they need, leaving their future in question. It is simply not acceptable for them to manage the decline of this vital service.
“Labour is committed to giving nurseries the funding they need, as part of a radical plan to make high-quality early years education available to every child in England.”
As well as the front bench support, the campaign received a further boost by the attendance of supporters from Tower Hamlets, Birmingham and Nottingham who are challenging similar cuts in their won cities.
Salford ‘Save Our Nurseries’ member Lee Shannon said: “The rally continued the momentum of the Salford campaign and raised awareness of the national campaign that we are building.
“It is clear now that this is not just an issue facing Salford, and therefore we have decided to launch a campaign entitled “SOON”, which stands for “Save Our Outstanding Nurseries”.
“The issue of early years funding is being raised regularly in Parliament by MPs of all parties – including the Conservatives – but despite promises made to us back in the Spring, we have yet to see any action from Nadhim Zahawi.”