The Princess of Wales is today revealed as the 'driving force' behind a new report calling on businesses to introduce more family-friendly working practices.

Her Royal Foundation Business Taskforce for Early Childhood has unveiled a major new report which argues that investing in early childhood could generate more than £45.5 billion for the national economy each year.

Downing Street, as well as senior ministers in the departments of health and education, have already been briefed about its findings - although palace officials are at pains to point out that it is not a political campaign.

A Kensington Palace spokesman also stressed that the news should not be seen as Kate, 42, returning to work after undergoing major abdominal surgery and revealing she was undergoing 'preventative chemotherapy' for cancer.

She has not undertaken public engagements at all this year.

But they confirmed that she has been across every aspect of the report from home, despite her illness.

Her spokesman said: 'The work of The Prince and Princess' projects is "always on"…early childhood is a huge priority for The Princess and so she has been kept fully updated throughout the development of the Taskforce's work and she has seen the report. '

A senior royal aide added: 'The Princess of Wales was the driving force behind the business task force. She has been kept up to date since the inception of the task force and she has read the report and been briefed on it.

'This is a clear commitment she has made that throughout her life of public service that this will be focus. That will continue when she returns to work. But we have been really clear that she needs the space and the privacy to recover right now. She will return to work when she has had the green light from doctors.'

Christian Guy, executive director of the early childhood centre, added: 'This is another crucial moment for HRH's early childhood work...its impact, and the work of her Centre for Early I know, having briefed The Princess on this, that she is enormously grateful to the members of the Taskforce who have made such fantastic progress on this work over the past year.

'She feels passionately about the transformational impact of getting this right together, both for the current generation and for many more to come. I know that she is keen to encourage all businesses, no matter what their size or purpose, to join us on this journey and is looking forward to seeing momentum grow in the coming months.'

A source close to the Princess said: 'She is excited about it. Action is so important for her, so having eight of the most important businesses in Britain come forward to make the case to their fellow business leaders is exciting to her. It's a priority going forward.'

The report is the result of six months of research into how businesses can better prioritise children in the most crucial stage of their lives between birth and five.

Taskforce members - Aviva, The Co-operative Group, Deloitte, Iceland Foods, IKEA, The LEGO Group, NatWest and Unilever UK - have identified key opportunities for firms to help their workforce, whether they be a small coffee shop in Wolverhampton or a major international corporation.

It argues proper investment in the field could generate more than £45.5 billion for the economy, including £12.2 billion from helping improve people's social and emotional skills in the earliest years, a £16.1 billion saving in public funds on remedial help for those who have adverse childhood experiences and £17.2 billion from supporting working parents, particularly with more affordable childcare.

The reports' authors also set out how 'building a culture' that prioritises early childhood within businesses, local communities and wider society is crucial in preventing a raft of social, health and mental issues in later life.

This includes offering parents and carers greater practical support, resources and flexibility with their work, and better access to quality, affordable and reliable early childhood education and care.

And it issued a 'major rallying call' to their fellow business leaders across the country to stand with them and the princess.

Firms such as The Co-op have already committed to raising £5 million over the next five years to create more than 600 apprenticeships, while NatWet is extending its lending target for the child care sector to £100 million.

In a joint statement the eight inaugural taskforce members said: 'Last year the Princess of Wales brought us together. She asked us to think radically about our approach to early childhood and the golden opportunity it presents to transform the lives of children…

'If we get this right, the results for business, for the economy and for society are clear for all to see. '

Mr Guy added: 'Tomorrow some of the most significant businesses in Britain will be joining forces to deliver a 'major early years rallying call' to their fellow business leaders across the country … urging their peers to stand with them, the Centre for Early Childhood, and The Princess to help transform the way our country supports the vital early years.

'Through a landmark report and by announcing the first tranche of initiatives they have developed, Taskforce members are stepping forward to make the case forhy other businesses need to act alongside them - for the good of the country now and in the future, including to unlock an enormous £45bn economic return for Britain. '

Further details on the report and its findings can be seen at

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2024-05-20T23:27:07Z dg43tfdfdgfd