Too many Britons let down on money management by lack of maths skills

Good practical numeracy skills are the essential key to people managing their finances better – and essential to improving the economy, according to the charity, National Numeracy.

The charity is supporting the first-ever Financial Capability Week, launched today (Nov 14) as part of the Financial Capability Strategy facilitated by the Money Advice Service, aimed at raising awareness of the importance of financial literacy for everyone.

National Numeracy agrees with the call for better financial education but points to a simple and often overlooked factor: too many Britons are let down by their lack of basic maths skills and knowledge when it comes to budgeting their money and staying out of debt. Although numeracy skills are clearly not the only factor influencing financial capability and confidence, they are an essential prerequisite.

Financial Capability Week follows last month’s release of figures from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) showing the UK’s poor standing in terms of financial knowledge, where it came bottom of 17 OECD countries surveyed, with many Britons not understanding the concept of inflation and unable to work out even simple interest.

The chief economist at the Bank of England, Andrew Haldane, whose appointment as a trustee of National Numeracy is announced this week, said: “I am delighted to become a trustee of National Numeracy.  And what a time to be joining.  The UK has just ranked towards the bottom of the OECD league table for financial knowledge and numeracy, with big costs both for individuals when managing their everyday lives and for the economy as a whole.  I look forward to working with National Numeracy to help get the UK into a better place”.

National Numeracy chief executive Mike Ellicock said: “The mathematical skills that people need to manage their money are not complex, although the contexts may be. We’re talking about understanding some fairly basic concepts and having the confidence to apply this understanding flexibly and practically. But so often people in the UK just disengage when presented with numbers and data – which is why we come out so poorly in international comparisons. It’s an understatement to say there is room for improvement.

Visit the Financial Capability website

Watch us discuss 2016 OECD adult financial literacy results on Sky News


1.    The first-ever Financial Capability Week takes place from November 14 to 20, launched by the Financial Capability Strategy, facilitated by the Money Advice Service. It aims to raise awareness of financial capability among policy-makers and organisations.

2.    National Numeracy is an independent charity established in 2012 to help raise low levels of numeracy among adults, young people and children across the UK and to promote the importance of everyday maths skills. Its projects include the National Numeracy Challenge, which offers an online service to let people assess and improve their numeracy skills.