Nadhim Zahawi to replace Robert Goodwill as children's minister

By Neil Puffett

| 11 January 2018

Nadhim Zahawi will take on Robert Goodwill's brief as children's minister following the government reshuffle, it has emerged.

Nadhim Zahawi has been chosen to replace Robert Goodwill as children's minister. Picture: UK Parliament

Zahawi, the MP for Stratford-Upon-Avon, was appointed parliamentary under secretary of state at the Department for Education (DfE) on Tuesday, hours after news emerged that Robert Goodwill had been sacked following little more than six months in the role.

The DfE is yet to confirm Zahawi's ministerial responsibilities, but the chief social worker for children, Isabelle Trowler, has said he will be the new children's minister with responsibility for children's social care.

She said that she had her first meeting with him yesterday and they are due to visit frontline social workers together today (11 January).

Zahawi also confirmed the appointment in response to a tweet by an adoptive mother.

It is understood that, like Goodwill before him, Zahawi will also be the minister responsible for early years, with Zahawi making reference to the role in an interview with Sky News on Tuesday evening.

Labour's shadow early years minister Tracy Brabin MP said: "I'd like to welcome Nadhim to his role as under secretary of state with responsibility for early years and look forward to meeting him soon.

"He's entering a world full of incredibly talented and dedicated practitioners and in his new role he can transform young lives forever.

"The truth is that there are big challenges, nurseries are closing at a frightening rate, fewer people are signing up for early years teacher qualifications and government policies are critically underfunded, so there is a lot work for him to do."

Purnima Tanuku, chief executive of National Day Nurseries Association, said: "We are pleased to welcome our new minister with responsibility for early years, Nadhim Zadawi, and look forward to working with him. He will certainly have a tough job on his hands.

"Nurseries across the country are struggling to deliver the government's pledge of 30 funded hours because funding from central government just doesn't cover providers' costs.

"Increases to National Living Wage will increase staffing costs from April by six per cent - but the vast majority of nurseries won't see a penny increase in their hourly rate.

"This is the fourth minister with the early years brief in three years - what the sector needs now is some stability.

"The new minister needs to look carefully at all possible solutions. These include much-needed new investment, reducing the eligibility threshold which would reduce the number of places needed and allowing nurseries flexibility in charging parents for additional services in order to balance their books.

"Mr Zadawi is already familiar with some of the sector's challenges, having assisted NDNA's members in his own constituency who handed him a petition calling for the government to rethink its 30 hours funded childcare scheme."

According to his website, Zahawi was was born in Baghdad, Iraq, to Kurdish parents in 1967. Under threat of persecution from Saddam Hussein's regime, his family immigrated to the UK when he was nine.

In 2010 he was elected MP for Stratford-Upon-Avon, and went on to serve on the business, innovation and skills select committee, the foreign affairs select committee, and in November 2015 was appointed by then Prime Minister David Cameron as an apprenticeship adviser.

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