The cost of inadequate early years support to the economy of England is more than £16 billion a year – almost equivalent to 20% of departmental spending on schools and education. 

The figure was calculated by researchers from LSE’s Care Policy and Evaluation Centre (CPEC). 

This startling discovery was published in a report by the Big change starts small agency. A round-table meeting took place on 18th June 2021 and marked the launch of The Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood. 

The event saw the presence of various dignitaries, including UK’s renowned practitioners and academicians, the Duchess of Cambridge, and LSE’s Professor, Martin Knapp.

The report was collectively published by The Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, The Royal Foundation, and CPEC.

It highlights the significant impact of the early years on people, the economy, and society as a whole. 

Impact on the Society

Headed by Doctor Eva-Maria Bonin, the CPEC team was able to outline massive economic numbers. These figures depict the cost of remedial steps taken by the government to rectify various socio-economic issues. 

There are many reasons why children and young people have significant problems in their early years. The combination of tough economic climate and austerity measures, including cuts to local services, contribute to such issues. Not least because money is tight, and it is increasingly hard for parents to get by.

Moreover, problems of adding a middle name through deed poll are with underprivileged families due to lack of knowledge and funds.

This could result in families having to cut back on essential items like food and fuel while leaving children vulnerable. 

However, researchers at LSE believe that the sum (£16.13 billion) is not the exact amount. It could be higher as it does not consider several factors, such as:

  • Result of parent-children attachment & conflicts on the mental and emotional state of children. It also does not explain how the failure to provide basic needs happened. 
  • Unmet requirements and the costs associated. 
  • Pitfalls in providing mental health support.
  • Earning losses and productivity isn’t considered either. 

Looking Forward

According to the lead researcher Doctor Bonin,

“We spend a lot of money trying to, and often failing to, fix problems that we know are at least in part preventable. There is a big opportunity to spend these resources in a way that leads to better outcomes for children, families, and society”. 

In the meeting, Professor Knapp emphasized improved research and data on the result of early years of investment in support & other aid. 

He said, “Our collective failure to provide the right early year’s support has enormous negative impacts across many areas of life and often for the whole life-course. We need collective commitment to acting early, building on research on what works for young children and families. I welcome the ambitions of the new Royal Foundation Centre to support this through initiatives driven by data.” 

LSE Director Minouche Shafik shared her thoughts:

“We were delighted to be able to host this discussion with the Duchess of Cambridge and so many eminent experts on this crucial topic.”

“It cannot be overstated how important early childhood is for our health, happiness, and for the economy. Our research has demonstrated that investing more in early years support and education is one of the highest return investments a society can make in its future.”


The report published at the round-table meeting held at the LSE will aid in guiding and supporting The Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood in its upcoming activities in the early years. 

Image Source: HRH The Duchess of Cambridge in discussion at LSE The Royal Foundation

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