Robert Halfon, MP for Harlow and Chair of the Commons Education Committee, has today backed a new report published by one of the UK’s leading think-tanks, the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), which calls for better financial education skills for children to help provide the money-management building blocks for later life.
The report has found that twenty-four million adults are not confident handling their money day to day, whilst 44% of all adults believe that their situation would improve with financial education. Indeed, half of Brits failed a financial literacy test run by the OECD in 2016, putting Britain below France, Norway and Austria in the global rankings. The CSJ believe financial education should start earlier, with evidence suggesting that the money habits and behaviours which stick with people for life, are formed by age seven.
The report, titled: On the Money - A Roadmap for Lifelong Financial Learning, shows that by teaching younger children financial education skills, they can develop the knowledge and resilience to prevent them from falling into debt and succumbing to fraud later in life. Key recommendations include:
- Putting financial education on the primary school curriculum through PSHE lessons.
- Introducing legislation that would ensure pupils receive financial education at least three times between year 8 and year 13.
- Establishing a ‘whole family approach’ to financial education by reaching parents through local infrastructure such as adult community education centres and Family Hubs.
- Allocating targeted funding from Local Authorities for care leavers and disadvantaged young adults to attend a local Money House programme, or other ‘experiential’ tenancy resilience programme, shown to benefit this vulnerable group.
- Utilising the £560 million Multiply programme investment pot to combine numeracy skills with financial education in order to build the financial resilience of the adult population.
Mr Halfon said “At the time of writing, the public’s number one concern is the rising cost of living. Soaring prices in energy, food and fuel have led to the largest squeeze on incomes since the 1970’s.
“Whilst I very much welcome the recent fiscal package the Chancellor introduced to help Harlow residents, we need to remain vigilant moving forward on how families can better manage their money, with challenging months ahead for many.
“As this timely and important report from the CSJ shows, almost half of individuals – 46 per cent – who have suffered from financial problems said that low money management skills played a part. Within the same poll, 44 per cent of all adults asked, and two-thirds of those aged 18–34, believe their situation would improve with more financial education.
“We must be bolder – critically, by adding financial education to the curriculum in primary school as research shows how those leaving school without an effective financial education are at high risk of financial abuse, fraud and debt.
“The “soft” skills which we too often denigrate in fact aren’t soft at all. Indeed, they are skills for life.”