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Rural childcare gets first minister

For the first time, the Prime Minister has appointed a minister with responsibility for rural childcare.

Thérèse Coffey was appointed parliamentary under secretary of state at DEFRA on July 17 and along with extremely diverse responsibilities including floods, air quality and waste management, she also has the portfolio for rural life opportunities, which covers rural childcare, education and skills, and health.

The MP for Suffolk Coastal, who was previously deputy leader of the House of Commons, will work closely with the department for education, and her appointment has been broadly welcomed by the childcare sector.

Purnima Tanuku, chief executive of the National Day Nurseries Association, said: “The specific inclusion of childcare in a DEFRA minister’s brief is a new departure for government. It’s welcome that rural childcare will be prioritised in this way under the rural life chances strand of Thérèse Coffey’s brief and we look forward to working with the minister.

“Childcare is of national strategic importance and it’s vital we have strong leadership from the department for education.” As well as the wider childcare issues facing the sector and parents as a whole, Coffey is likely to be under pressure to address those specific to the rural economy namely sustainability, poorer availability than in urban areas, the distances families have to travel to access provision and also the relative higher costs compared to cities."

September 2016