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Revealed: First ever detailed map of UK numeracy skills

11 Jul 2022

  • New UK Numeracy Index reveals where efforts to improve numeracy could aid levelling up

  • 93% of Local Authorities contain at least one ward with below average numeracy skills

Graphic showing a map of the UK with areas shaded in different colours, with text reading "UK Numeracy Index. Numeracy skills + confidence across the UK"

New insight into the UK's numeracy

The areas where efforts to ‘level up’ numeracy skills would have the most benefit have been revealed, thanks to partnership between charity National Numeracy and Experian.

The new UK Numeracy Index predicts average numeracy skills and confidence in 379 local authority areas and 8,870 wards, providing a unique insight into the country’s numeracy capabilities.

By using this data, policymakers, organisations and communities can begin to better understand the issues in their localities and take action to boost numeracy skills for those who need it most.

Identifying the greatest need for numeracy support

With half the working-age population of the UK having the expected numeracy level of a primary school child, improving numeracy can boost social mobility and help the millions of people who are currently financially excluded.

Local authority areas identified as having the greatest need for support to boost low numeracy levels were Merthyr Tydfil, Kingston Upon Hull and Blaenau Gwent, while regionally the North East was found to have the greatest need for support.

However, low numeracy is an issue across the whole country. The vast majority of local authorities (93%) contain at least one ward with below-average numeracy skills, indicating the widespread nature of the problem.

Help to tackle the UK's numeracy crisis

Sam Sims, CEO, National Numeracy, said: “Numeracy levels in the UK are significantly below the average for developed countries with nearly half the working-age population having the expected numeracy level of a primary school child. Low numeracy disproportionately affects disadvantaged communities and holds millions of people back.

“The UK Numeracy Index offers new insight and fresh data to help us tackle the UK’s numeracy problem. This unique model will allow us, and others that use it, to better target support where it is most needed, where the impact of improved numeracy will have greater impact on lives and livelihoods.”

Colin Grieves, Head of Marketing Services, Experian UK&I, said: “By using our analytics expertise, Experian was able to map numeracy levels across the UK, revealing the issue isn’t just confined to certain areas but one which impacts all communities.

“Only by truly understanding a problem – and where those challenges are likely to be most severe – can we find the right solutions. Data insights are the foundation to that understanding.

“Poor numeracy has an enormous impact on people’s everyday lives, and we hope the Numeracy Index will help support the crucial work of National Numeracy, and inspire debate about how we can best solve the UK’s maths problem.”

Try the UK Numeracy Index

The UK Numeracy Index can be explored via the National Numeracy website. It will also be made available to government, local authorities, charities and organisations across the country, so they can begin to tackle the issue in their area.

Please get in touch for more in-depth data, down to ward-level, or if you would like to learn more about the tool:  [email protected]

Watch the UK Numeracy Index launch webinar below, to find out more about why it was created, and how it works:

Further research