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Princess of Wales ‘excited’ by Early Years report

The Princess of Wales is not returning to work yet, but remains fully updated on the Early Years work going on in her absence, it was revealed at the launch of a “landmark” new report.

Keen not to distract from the importance of the findings of the Early Years business taskforce, that was set up by the princess last year, a palace spokesperson confirmed that “it should not be seen or reported on as Her Royal Highness returning to work”.

They added: “You all know that 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.”

The report is an example of how the work of her Early Years Foundation has continued despite Kate undergoing preventative chemotherapy.

The princess, who “still needs space to recover”, is said to be “excited” by the findings, which claim the UK could reap £45.5bn in economic benefits if firms prioritise early childhood.

It recommends a range of interventions, from creating a culture inside and outside firms that prioritises childhood to supporting parents with greater resources and flexibility in the workplace.

Among the eight-member taskforce are the chief executives of Ikea, NatWest Group and Deloitte.

Speaking about the report, described as “a major early years rallying call”, Emma Franklin, a director of consulting with Deloitte said: “We’ve established a figure of £45.5bn, which is just immense in terms of value added to the UK economy.

“And that’s three simple things, which is productivity gains of enabling parents who want to work more hours to get back into the workforce and avoiding some of the recruitment retention costs for people who are leaving the workforce, but also in terms of developing some of those really core social and emotional skills in our under fives now that will stand them in such good stead as the future workforce for us in terms of the skills around empathy and resilience and problem-solving.

“I think it’s a really compelling case for change.”

Sky News visited a baby bank in north London run by Little Village.

Last year they supported 8,500 children, 20% more than the year before, and increasingly working parents are coming in for help.

Thea Jaffe has three children, including eight-month-old Isaac who’ll need to go to nursery when she goes back to work later this year.

She said: “My rent is £2,000 a month, nursery £3,000. That’s £5,000 right there. I thought I had a good job taking home £2,600 a month after taxes, but apparently it’s not good enough.

“Yeah, it’s really tough. I feel bad about it because I feel like times when I should be enjoying the time with my kids, learning more about who they are, what they care about, what makes them tick. But I’m just preoccupied with like, how are we going to, you know, how am I going to pay our bills?”

Little Village CEO Sophie Livingstone says companies need to step up, and she hopes the influence of the princess will help.

“I have no doubt that she will follow through and keep on it with businesses and keep holding their feet to the fire to make a tangible difference,” she said.

“This is just the beginning, in my view. What we need now is to see those commitments coming through, to see that action, because the time is now, the need has never been greater.

“So I’m really grateful to the princess for drawing attention to this. But it’s now time for business to follow through behind her.”

The report has been shared with No.10, the Department of Health and Department for Education, but those involved insist they will not be lobbying government for change, instead showing the societal impact that businesses can help drive.

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