Launch of the National Numeracy Challenge at the House of Lords

The National Numeracy Challenge has been launched at a reception at the House of Lords attended by 180 people from business, education, politics and the voluntary sector. The event, hosted by Baroness Stedman-Scott (chief executive of the charity Tomorrow's People), generated huge interest in National Numeracy and the Challenge.

Stephen Twigg, Shadow Education Secretary, gave his backing to National Numeracy and the Challenge, encouraging every employer to sign up to raising the numeracy standards of their employees. He said: "The importance of this organisation and its activities cannot be overstated". Referring to the "shocking" statistic of 17 million adults with primary school level numeracy, he said that "Numeracy is not just a moral imperative, it is an economic necessity". Read his full speech.

The Skills Minister Matthew Hancock was unable to attend because of urgent government business but, speaking on his behalf, Dr Susan Pember, Director for Further Education and Skills Investment at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, said that the present and previous governments had done a lot to support adult literacy and numeracy learning, and participation had increased, but added: "The quality of adult numeracy needs to improve. We need to do more… We need to get to adults in the workplace, who often don't realise how bad their maths is." She described the Challenge as "a very timely initiative".

John Griffith-Jones, vice chair of National Numeracy and chairman-designate of the new Financial Conduct Authority, said: "I don't think it is acceptable for British business to say numeracy in the workplace is bad and then do nothing about it". He called on those whose business depended on good numeracy to step up to the plate and support the National Numeracy Challenge.

We are now looking forward to talking further to many of those who attended.

The Challenge has already elicited some response from the National and Regional Press – including The Independent, BBC News and The Evening Standard.

Join the conversation on Twitter on #NNChallenge.