I agree entirely. I am pleased that, in Bristol, we have managed to keep our children’s centres open by coupling them with nursery schools in the majority of cases, and by creating a funding environment that means we have not needed to close them.
We do not need to look far from my constituency, however, to see how many centres have closed around the country under the current Government. I wish that my predecessors in the Labour Government had thought about the scheme sooner, because they introduced it late in their time in government. It was the right thing to do and I hope that we will be able to reintroduce such schemes under a future Labour Government. The evidence is clear: intervention at an earlier age is essential for tackling the inequality gap.
I will touch on maintained nursery schools and the link to childcare.