The number of early-year childcare providers in Swindon has dropped significantly since 2018, new figures show. 

The data shows that the number of early-year providers available in the town has reduced every year from 2018 until now

In response, Labour have slammed 'Tory childcare havoc' while the party's shadow education secretary paid a visit to childminders in Swindon on Tuesday, alongside South Swindon MP candidate Heidi Alexander. 

MP  Bridget Phillipson said the Conservatives have been “wreaking 14 years of havoc on the childcare system” after new analysis from the party showed that there are now more than two children for every childcare place in Swindon.

The analysis obtained from Ofsted found that the number of childcare places in Swindon had fallen by 186 overall since 2018.

And in just the last year, from 2022 to 2023, the number of providers offering places fell from 238 to 221 with nurseries and childminders shutting their doors. 

Since 2018, more than a quarter of providers have left the market, with numbers falling from 356 to 258.

Of the remaining 221 providers in the town, there are 5,154 spaces. Recent census data shows that the latest figures for number of children in Swindon was 13,626. This suggests there are 2.6 children per available space and means that over half of children will miss out.

Labour says it is committed to ensuring families have access to the free childcare they are entitled to and is working up serious plans to deliver this.

Sir David Bell, the former Chief Inspector of Schools, has been asked to deliver a review of the early-years system that would form the basis of reforms in childcare so that it better supports families from the end of parental leave to the end of primary school.

Ms Phillipson added: "The Conservatives’ childcare pledge without a plan, risks crashing the system just as they crashed the economy.

“Offering families funded childcare hours is no good if they can’t access them, by doing so, the Conservatives have set up families in Swindon to fail. Labour is committed to getting families the childcare support they need.

“Labour will build a modern childcare system to break down barriers to opportunity for our children and young people and ensure families in Swindon get affordable and accessible childcare.”

The Conservative government, via Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, has also pledged that working parents of two-year-olds in England will have access to 15 hours of free childcare.