Vision for Literacy Business Pledge

WHSmith Young Readers 2

Research estimates that if every child left primary school with the reading skills they need, our economy could be more than £32.1 billion bigger by 2025 [1]. Many employers also face direct costs to their business and low literacy creates barriers to social mobility.

Now entering its fourth year, the Vision for Literacy Business Pledge calls on UK businesses to join the national literacy campaign to help close the nation's literacy gap and boost social mobility. First established by the National Literacy Forum in 2015, with the support of KPMG, the Pledge has seen a 46% increase in the number of businesses committing their support.

74 businesses have signed the Pledge in 2019, with household names including Lancôme, News Corp and Oxford University Press joining businesses including Amazon, Facebook, KPMG, McDonald’s and the Premier League. Throughout the year, businesses have been supported to address literacy problems within their workforce, in the local communities where they work, and on a national level. Of the businesses who committed to the Pledge in 2018:

  • 74% delivered literacy programmes in schools and 37% gifted books to children and parents
  • 32% created a book club or library for employees and 21% delivered literacy training for staff
  • 5% funded national research on literacy in the UK

The Pledge has boosted the literacy skills of some of the most disadvantaged children, young people and families in the UK. In 2018:

  • KPMG purchased Literacy Toolkits for 24 disadvantaged primary schools, gifting 1,200 brand new books and affording more than 6,000 children the chance to develop a love of reading.
  • British Land supported the reading skills and enjoyment of 7,819 primary school children across the UK, distributing over 23,000 free books, running 85 exciting events in schools and British Land retail sites, and funding reading for pleasure training for 87 teachers.
  • WHSmith raised funds to launch a National Literacy Trust Hub in Swindon, known locally as Swindon Stories, which encompasses a range of programmes and activities to equip children and young people in the town with the literacy skills they need to succeed in life.
  • McDonald’s ran their fifth Happy Readers campaign, supporting families to read together by giving away free books in every Happy Meal™. To date, McDonald’s has delivered 61 million books into the hands of British children.

In 2019, we will be supporting businesses to target their resources where they can make the biggest difference to the UK’s literacy challenge – in the early years.

At the age of just five, children from the poorest backgrounds in England start school already 19 months behind their wealthier peers in terms of language and vocabulary [2]. This is a gap most never recover from during their school life and one which will take 40 years to eradicate at the current rate of change [3]. Businesses can make a difference today.

Download the Vision for Literacy Business Pledge 2019 for a full list of signatories and to find out more about the Pledge.

Would you like to join the national literacy campaign in 2020?

If you'd like to become a signatory in 2020, please email

[1] Read On. Get On. (2014) How reading can help children escape poverty. Published by Save the Children on behalf of the Read. On. Get On. campaign

[2] The Sutton Trust (2012) The Social Mobility Summit: Report of the Summit held at the Royal Society London 21-22 May 2012

[3] The Sutton Trust (2017) The Mobility Manifesto 2017