Half the working age population of the UK has the numeracy level of a primary school child, putting us significantly behind other developed countries. Not getting on with numbers costs us £25 billion a year and is holding us back; it blights lives and livelihoods, limits social mobility and contributes to pervasive problems from unemployment to poor health and debt.
Improving numeracy levels nationally offers benefits right across society, stimulating the economy and helping people to get on in vital aspects of their lives at a time when emerging from Covid requires a skilled and confident population. But it will require a sustained and collective effort across business, government and every aspect of civil society.
Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak said: “Having the right numeracy skills is really important in every aspect of people’s lives, from getting on in a career, to balancing a family budget. It’s also vital for the country as we build back better from the pandemic. That’s why I’m delighted that HM Treasury is joining the National Numeracy Leadership Council, and look forward to us working together to raise awareness of this important issue.”
The Council will grow the network of organisations and individuals actively addressing the issue of poor numeracy and elevate the understanding and importance of the issue at the national level. Most importantly, the collective work of the Council and its member organisations will help support people to improve and use their numeracy by creating positive attitudes to numbers and maths, supporting financial wellbeing, increasing access to sustainable careers and, ultimately, stimulating productivity across the entire workforce.
Sam Sims, Chief Executive of National Numeracy said: “As the only UK charity dedicated to improving the nation’s numeracy, we are delighted to be working with the country’s leading businesses and the government, in tackling the pervasive problem of poor numeracy. At a time of such great challenge, the National Numeracy Leadership Council will help make a positive difference for the nation.”
Recent research carried out for National Numeracy investigated the financial cost of low numeracy for individuals and the nation, calculating that the 16 million workers in the UK with low numeracy skills were missing out on £25 billion of lost earnings. It also found that workers with low numeracy lost more jobs during the Covid pandemic and that some regions in the UK are suffering more than others, with numeracy skills are weakest in regions whose incomes are lowest.
National Numeracy Leadership Council founding members:
Chair - Andy Haldane, Permanent Secretary for Levelling Up at the Cabinet Office, on secondment from the RSA where he is Chief Executive
- Priyanka Wadhawan, Director of Insights and Innovation, Amazon UK
- Chris Hayman, Director UK Public Sector, Amazon Web Services
- Constantin Cotzias, European Director, Bloomberg L.P.
- Mark Lindsay, Director, Experian Marketing Services UK & Ireland
- Sally Moore, Executive Vice President, Head of Strategy, Corporate Development and Alliances, IHS Markit
- Bina Mehta, Chair, KPMG UK
- Sam Sims, Chief Executive, National Numeracy
- Malcolm Le May, Chief Executive Officer, PFG
- Philip Price, Group General Counsel, TP ICAP
- Tammy Fevrier, Deputy Director, Youth and Skills, Department for Work and Pensions
- Gwyneth Nurse, Director of Financial Services, HM Treasury
National Numeracy Leadership Council founding member organisations say:
Amazon UK: “Being confident with numbers has a hugely positive impact on our daily lives, and developing better numeracy skills can unlock the confidence to grow in your career or even start a new one. At Amazon, all of our employees use numeracy skills every day to deliver a great experience for our customers, and we’re proud to be joining the National Numeracy Leadership council to help more people across the UK become more skilled and confident with numbers.”
Bloomberg L.P.: “At Bloomberg, we are committed to giving back to the cities in which we live and work, drawing on the time and talents of our employees. We believe that more inclusive access to data and technology can deliver powerful results for society, which is why we're proud to support National Numeracy to help communities build confidence in numbers and unlock opportunity.”
Experian Ltd: “We are delighted to be founding members of this important new initiative, building on our United for Financial Health partnership with National Numeracy. We’re committed to helping highlight the importance of good number confidence and skills, not least because of the positive impact a firm grasp of maths can have on people’s financial wellbeing. We can’t wait to get to work through the council to help solve the UK’s numeracy challenge."
KPMG UK: “KPMG UK has pushed for a greater focus on numeracy skills for a number of years and we are proud to have been the founding supporter of National Numeracy Day, seeking to inspire everyone to improve their everyday maths. That’s why we are delighted to join the National Numeracy Leadership Council and work with other members to push numeracy up the national agenda.”
PFG: “PFG is proud to build on its longstanding relationship with National Numeracy and become a member of its new Leadership Council. As a financial services company, we know how important a role that good numeracy skills play in supporting the financial wellbeing of our customers, colleagues and other partners. We look forward to working in partnership with the Council’s other members to improve numeracy in the UK.”
TP ICAP: “Numeracy matters – for individuals, for families, and for society overall. That’s why TP ICAP is proud to have supported National Numeracy since 2018, and we’re excited to join this new Leadership Council. Because engaging people to improve their numeracy skills and build their confidence with numbers is a critical part of fostering social mobility.”
If you would like to learn more about the National Numeracy Leadership Council or how to get involved, please contact Cassia Weaver, Partnerships Manager at National Numeracy
For press enquiries: Julia Day, External Relations Director at National Numeracy