Parents in Swindon battle for childcare places before they get pregnant

  • ITV News West Country Political Correspondent Lucy McDaid reports.

Parents in Swindon say they are having to book a nursery place before they even get pregnant.

It comes as figures from the Labour Party claim there is just one nursery place for every two children in the borough.

Ahead of the general election, political parties are fighting over who has the best plan for parents and providers.

Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Education, Bridget Phillipson, has been in Swindon talking to parents.

One mother, Natalie, said cost was a major issue: “A massive chunk out of my monthly salary goes straight into childcare. It’s such a barrier for a lot of working families, it’s really difficult to make the decision if it is even worth going back to work.

"For me the main reason was I wanted to have an identity outside of being a mother.”

Ed & Ellen at Happy Hub in Swindon Credit: ITV West Country

Another mum, Ellen, said: “The main issue for us is that there aren’t many places, some of my friends were looking at nurseries before they got pregnant and trying to sign up for them but that’s something we haven’t done.

"We’re concerned we won’t find a nursery, or at least one that we want and that’s government funded because that’s really important to us. We wouldn’t be able to afford to send him to nursery without that help.”

Owner of the Happy Hub nursery in Swindon, Amy Kohn, said: “If you look at the other side, what we receive as a wage is also very low, we’re not gaining any funding in the current arrangement with funded hours.

"We want to provide the best start to children in life but unfortunately the money is not there to do that.”

Shadow Education Secretary Bridget Phillipson meeting families in Swindon Credit: ITV West Country

Childcare is likely to be a major issue at the next General Election and our political correspondent Lucy McDaid asked Bridget Phillipson if parents would know what Labour’s plans are going into the election.

She said: “We will certainly say more going into the election on childcare and early years, yes we’ll certainly have more to say going into the election.”

Ms Philipson added: “I want to ensure there is good, high quality, early years education and childcare that’s available to parents. The government has made all these promises but in reality it is just not happening in the way parents anticipated.”

The government insists the current expansion of free hours will help parents make big savings.

Justin Tomlinson, the MP for North Swindon said: “It will be a challenge and we have to work with the sector and that is why we’re increasing funding to £8 billion to support hard working families, because at the end of the day this could be worth up to £7,000 a year for families.”