Royals call on more businesses to invest in early years schemes

Investment in early childhood schemes could add £45.5bn to the UK economy, says a report published by a business taskforce set up by the Prince and Princess of Wales’ charity.

A report published by the Royal Foundation of the Prince and Princess of Wales taskforce is urging businesses to invest in early years schemes to improve children’s development and boost the UK economy.

Its report estimates investment in young children’s education and care could add £45.5bn to the UK economy a year.

This includes £12.2bn by investing in improving children’s learning and social skills, saving £16.1bn in further support as they grow older, and £17.2bn by helping parents and carers work.

Businesses are especially urged to invest in “quality, affordable and reliable” childcare and improve young children’s social and emotional skills in the report.

“As the world becomes ever more complex, we have to invest in early childhood now, as a down payment for our collective future,” said Princess Catherine.

“If business and commerce embrace this significant issue – including how better early childhoods will affect their own organisations both now and in the long term – we can and will transform lives for generations to come.”

Companies investing in early years

The royals’ report details how action already taken by members of its business taskforce, set up last year by the charity’s Centre for Early Childhood unit.

This includes the Co-operative Group creating a specific early childhood fund as part of its apprentice levy scheme.

The LEGO Group is donating 3,000 education sets to early years providers, and the NatWest Group is extending its lending target for the childcare sector to £100 million.

Meanwhile, Deloitte is focusing its ongoing investment in Teach First to include the early years sector for the first time, supporting 366 early years professionals in 2024

Others involved in the charity’s taskforce include Iceland Foods, IKEA and Unilever UK.

“Some of the most significant businesses in Britain have joined forces to deliver a major rallying call to their fellow business leaders to prioritise young children and those who care for them – for the good of our society and economy,” said Christian Guy, executive director of the royal charity’s centre for early childhood.

A joint statement from the firms involved in the charity’s taskforce said: “Our organisations have come together to share our knowledge and experience, as well as deepen our own understanding of the importance of early childhood development, to establish this comprehensive and compelling business case for change.

“If we get this right, the results for business, for the economy and for society are clear for all to see: a happier, more productive workforce today; a future workforce equipped with the skills needed to deal with all the complexity and challenges of the modern world, and £45.5 billion in value added for the national economy each year.

“As leaders of some of the UK’s largest businesses, we have a responsibility, but also a very clear vested interest in driving change in this area. We hope this report will encourage businesses of all sizes, across the UK, to join us and help build a healthy, happy society for everyone.”

The report has been welcomed by Purnima Tanuku OBE, chief executive of National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA).

She said: “Measures in the report show some innovative approaches to supporting the sector from big employers and companies such as NatWest and Co-Operative including apprenticeship levy contributions that could help to bolster the workforce who are instrumental in educating and supporting the development of our youngest children.”

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