Investing in parents and early childhood could boost UK economy by £45.5 billion, says Royal Foundation report

Posted By: Amy Tubb

21st May 2024

  • Early years
  • Report
  • MMHA comment
  • Research
  • Work

2 minute read

The Royal Foundation Business Taskforce for Early Childhood has released a new report highlighting the significant economic benefits of investing in early childhood and the adults around them. According to ‘Prioritising early childhood for a happier, healthier society’, prioritising early childhood development by supporting working parents and caregivers, improving social and emotional skills, and reducing public spending on remedial measures could add at least £45.5 billion to the UK economy annually.

Established by The Princess of Wales in March 2023, the Taskforce includes major companies such as Aviva, The Co-operative Group, Deloitte, Iceland Foods, IKEA UK and Ireland, The LEGO Group, NatWest Group and Unilever UK.

The Taskforce’s report acknowledges the work some businesses are already doing in this space, but also the enormous potential for the business community to do more. They have identified five areas in which companies of all sizes could make the greatest impact for children under five, their parents and caregivers, the economy and wider society.

Five key impact areas

  1. Building a culture that prioritises early childhood within businesses, local communities, and wider society.
  2. Helping families facing the greatest challenges access the basic support and essentials they need.
  3. Offering parents and carers greater support, resources, choice, and flexibility with their work.
  4. Prioritising and nurturing social and emotional skills in young children and the adults in their lives.
  5. Supporting initiatives which increase access to quality, affordable and reliable early childhood education and care.

Christian Guy, Executive Director of The Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood, emphasised the importance of business involvement in early childhood development for a healthier and more productive society.

Whether it is helping families access the support they need, prioritising the social and emotional well-being of children and the adults in their lives, or building a culture that prioritises early childhood, business has a significant part to play.

Christian Guy, Executive Director of The Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood

To accompany the report’s release, Taskforce members have committed to taking action on the issue, with several announcing new initiatives, including:

  • Co-operative Group creating an early childhood fund for apprenticeships, with support from NatWest Group, Unilever UK, IKEA UK, and Ireland, and Iceland Foods
  • Deloitte investing in Teach First for the early years sector
  • NatWest Group extending lending target for the childcare sector to £100 million and launching accreditation scheme
  • IKEA expanding support for families experiencing the greatest disadvantage
  • The Co-operative Group supporting the Baby Bank Alliance
  • LEGO Group donating LEGO Education sets to aid emotional exploration
  • Iceland Foods providing support and awareness in stores.

All members have committed to continuing to work with The Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood and supporting Shaping Us, The Princess of Wales’ campaign to raise awareness about the importance of the first five years of life.

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.

Leaders, The Royal Foundation Business Taskforce for Early Childhood

Throughout the rest of this year, The Centre for Early Childhood and Taskforce members will be speaking to business leaders across the UK to encourage businesses, large and small, to join this movement.

Our response

The Maternal Mental Health Alliance (MMHA) welcomes today’s Royal Foundation report, especially its emphasis on the mental health and wellbeing of parents and caregivers. We appreciate the Taskforce's recognition that supporting parents and caregivers is crucial for the wellbeing of the youngest in our society. The MMHA’s own research underscores the profound human and economic benefits of investing in the perinatal period and the first 1,001 days of a child's life.

We hope other companies will follow in the footsteps of Taskforce members and take much-needed action to better support working parents, caregivers, and their families.

Further information

More information about how to get involved can be found on The Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood website.

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