The Lord Mayor of the City of London has led a group calling for financial education to be made statutory in primary schools, in a raft of new measures to tackle financial illiteracy in the United Kingdom.
The Financial Literacy and Inclusion Steering Group, chaired by the Lord Mayor, Nicholas Lyons, announced a six-point plan to address low levels of financial literacy, inclusion and numeracy across the country.
The Steering Group, which has received sector-wide support, including from the Financial Conduct Authority, Aviva and the Economic Secretary to the Treasury and City Minister, Andrew Griffith MP, identified a lack of consistent financial education within the school curriculum and an overrepresentation of certain demographics in financial hardship including low-income families, single parents, women, ethnic minorities and renters.
There are at least 17.5 million people in financially vulnerable circumstances – nearly a third of all adults in the UK. Within this number, there are millions unable to access the safety nets others rely on such as affordable credit, insurance and savings. This number is on the rise as the pressures of the pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis remain.
The six-point plan, shaped by the Steering Group and announced at a dinner yesterday night [9 October] for the Lord Mayor hosted by the Archbishop of Canterbury, considers both private sector and Government measures to improve financial literacy, inclusion and numeracy:
- Increase accessibility to affordable credit and insurance and deliver affordable debt consolidation products.
- Apply evidence-based approaches to communications to become more accessible for consumers taking into account the baseline low level of numeracy skills and number confidence among the population;
- Commit to ensuring that the needs of vulnerable children and young people are addressed in financial education programmes, through increased funding, targeted initiatives, and improved training for practitioners;
- Commit to improving employee pension participation and progression by supporting employees throughout their working life to understand financial information;
- Make financial education statutory in England in the PSHE curriculum at KS1 and KS2;
- Require all regulators to incorporate the requirement for accessible communications using evidence-based approaches with the objective to make a similar requirement in future for all Government departments and other Government bodies.
The Steering Group members include the City of London Corporation, National Numeracy, Fair4All Finance, The Financial Inclusion Commission, PSHE Association, Plain Numbers and the Financial Times Financial Literacy and Inclusion Campaign.
Nicholas Lyons, the Lord Mayor of the City of London, said, “Low numeracy is one of the largest consumer vulnerabilities affecting the UK. Around half of working-age adults in the UK have the numeracy level expected of a primary school child while millions of adults across the UK do not feel confident to manage their money day-to-day. Not only does this impact the most vulnerable households across the country, it also places an often underestimated deadweight on economic growth.
“This six-point plan outlines how the private sector, regulators and Government can collaborate to address financial inclusion and illiteracy from the youngest age upward to create a more resilient and equal society that equips and empowers people to make effective financial decisio.”