Adult numeracy skills in the UK are costing the economy £20bn
Published 27 March 2014 by Linzi Nuttall
Poor adult numeracy skills are costing the economy £20bn – and that’s not all. Household budgets could also prove difficult for Brits who struggle with maths.
‘Shocking’ numeracy skills cost economy £20bn
The poor numeracy skills of UK adults are costing the economy £20 billion every year, it’s been estimated.
Research by Pro Bono Economics for the charity National Numeracy has revealed that employees are getting lower wages, businesses are losing out on profits and the government is receiving less revenue from tax than it should – all because of a poor grasp of numeracy.
So, while the economy is losing out to the tune of 1.3% of its gross domestic product, so too are individuals. While the research estimates that each year the government misses out on £8.2 billion and employers lose out on £3.2 billion, poor numeracy is costing the people of Britain the most - a staggering £8.8 billion.
Balancing the books
When you’re talking about such huge amounts of money, it’s hard to work out the cost to you personally. However, experts believe poor numeracy skills are costing individuals in all sorts of different ways.
For instance, struggling with maths can be a particular problem when you’re trying to keep track of your household budget. When you have so many outgoings – mortgage/rent, utility bills, council tax, travel costs, grocery shopping, childcare – it’s a huge task to keep on top of it all. If numeracy isn’t your strong point, it’s even harder.
A study last year by the Money Advice Service (MAS) revealed that while nearly two-thirds of people had some form of loan or credit (including mortgages) to their name, 21% admitted they lacked confidence when it came to managing their money. Meanwhile, 16% couldn’t correctly identify what their available balance was on a bank statement, and one in 10 weren’t able to choose the best option between two different financial deals. This led MAS to warn that 9 million people in the UK need “urgent help” with money management.
As easy as 1, 2, 3
The Pro Bono Economics’ research found that nearly half of the adult population of the UK have maths skills that fall below the level expected of the average primary school child. This is a figure that economist Karen Hancock finds “shocking”.
If you’ve got kids, you may have realised you struggle with maths when trying to help them with their homework. In fact, you may even feel that your lack of maths skills are holding you back in life, whether that’s because you can’t help your kids with their sums, you’re unable to manage the household budget or you’re not getting the jobs you want.
Now, National Numeracy is encouraging more adults to improve their maths skills by taking a short quiz to test how good they are at numeracy. After completing it, they’ll be provided with advice on where to get help with maths, and it’s hoped the scheme will boost at least one million people’s maths skills over the next five years. As maths plays such a huge part in our everyday lives, it really is never too late to learn.
Staying in control of your money
At thinkmoney, we can help you stay on top of your budget. Our personal accounts provide an alternative to the high street bank account in that we manage your money for you and make budgeting easy.
When you open an account with us, simply tell us what all your essential outgoings are each month (standing orders for bills and debt repayments, etc.) and we will make sure that the money you need for these is ring-fenced from the rest of your income. You’re then free to spend the rest of your money with the peace of mind that all your bills are covered – and you’ll never get any late fees.
In return for our monthly management fee, we will regularly monitor your account to make sure it is running smoothly, and to provide you with help and support whenever you need it.
You can count on our numeracy skills to help you manage your money.