Today, The Royal Foundation Business Taskforce for Early Childhood has published a report setting out the business case for prioritising early childhood. The report, Prioritising early childhood for a happier, healthier society, has been produced by Deloitte on behalf of the Taskforce and sets out the huge scale of opportunity for business to drive, and benefit from, prioritising early childhood in the workplace, community and wider society.

It details how investing in early childhood could generate at least £45.5 billion in value added for the national economy each year. This includes £12.2bn from equipping people with improved social and emotional skills in early childhood, £16.1bn from reducing the need to spend public funds on remedial steps for adverse childhood experiences, and £17.2bn from supporting parents and caregivers of under-fives who work.

A number of new initiatives have been announced, including funding for early years apprenticeships and leadership programmes, increased support for baby banks, and creating welcoming spaces for families with young children.

The Taskforce was established in March 2023 by The Princess of Wales to galvanise business action on early childhood. Since then, Taskforce members Aviva, The Co-operative Group, Deloitte, Iceland Foods, IKEA UK and Ireland, The LEGO Group, NatWest Group and Unilever UK, have worked together to identify the scale of the opportunity and the role that business can play.

A joint statement from eight founding CEOs calls on “businesses of all sizes, across the UK, to join us and help build a healthy, happy society for everyone.”

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

“Today marks another milestone moment in our work to make early childhood a priority across society. 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.

“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.”

Welcoming the report, Alison Morton, iHV CEO, said:

“This important programme of work, led by the Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood, is shining a much-needed spotlight on the social and economic case for investing in the earliest years of life. It is wonderful to see so many businesses joining this call and adding their weight of support. The commitments that have been announced today will quickly bring benefits to so many. They also lead the way for a lasting shift in our society that values early childhood and a legacy that can be proudly handed on to the next generation.

“The extent of the work of the Royal Foundation is far-reaching and we thank them for their ongoing support for health visiting and our work to improve the support that families with babies and young children receive.”

The report identifies five areas in which businesses of all sizes can have the opportunity to make the greatest impact for children under five, the adults around them, the economy and wider society:

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

The release of the report is accompanied by a new business-focused area on The Centre for Early Childhood’s website containing practical information and resources.