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Being ‘Hopeless at Maths’ is No Laughing Matter
On Monday 13th Februray, the 694th Lord Mayor of the City of London, Nicholas Lyons stressed the vital role that the City has to play in improving numeracy, financial education and access to finance at the Gresham College lecture at Guildhall.
"In the UK today, over half of working-age adults have the numeracy level expected of a primary school child."
While Gresham College has been providing free public lectures since 1597 and annually the Lord Mayor provides a lecture on financial services, this year he was joined on a panel event by Andy Haldane, Vice-Chair of The Lord Mayor's Appeal's partner charity, National Numeracy. The panel also included Sacha Romanovitch OBE, Chief Executive of Fair4AllFinance and Patrick Jenkins, Deputy Editor of the Financial Times.
The Lord Mayor started off his lecture by reminding the audience that "In the UK today, over half of working-age adults have the numeracy level expected of a primary school child."
He went on to say, "As a nation, we’re unphased - or even amused - when people pronounce themselves 'hopeless at maths'. But it’s no laughing matter. Because, at the same time, a quarter of adults have less than £100 in savings and half of people don’t feel confident managing their money day-to-day. Numeracy, financial literacy, and financial inclusion are the building blocks for a fairer society. They help people make sense of their money, plan for the future, manage unexpected shocks and get on in life. Poor numeracy skills are hampering groups who are already at a disadvantage. Research shows women are twice as anxious as men about maths. And while 45% of men only have the numeracy level expected of a primary school-age child, that rises to 63% of women.
And while 45% of men only have the numeracy level expected of a primary school-age child, that rises to 63% of women.
The cost-of-living crisis provides further impetus for improved financial education. It also exposes gaping holes within the financial services system for useful, affordable products, services, and advice. People in vulnerable financial circumstances are unaware of the availability of basic bank accounts, designed for those with poor credit scores or, otherwise, find them hard to access. Clearly, it will require a group effort to turn the dial on numeracy, financial literacy, and inclusion. As Lord Mayor, I see it as my responsibility to use the City’s unique convening power to unite those different groups and come up with a coordinated plan for further action.”
Since the partnership began last year, The Lord Mayor’s Appeal has helped to tackle this growing problem through partner charity National Numeracy's ‘Every Londoner Counts’ initiative. These workshops and resources aim to improve employability and financial inclusion by supporting thousands of Londoners in greatest need to build confidence, skills, and positive attitudes to basic numeracy through a network of 500 newly trained Numeracy Champions. In 2022, it saw 3,466 Londoners complete the National Numeracy Challenge or attend one of the National Numeracy workshops and 1,226 Londoners improve their numeracy by engaging with the its resources and workshops.
Watch to full Gresham College Lecture here
Find more information on National Numeracy here