Money management drives adults to improve maths skills, survey finds

19th March 2015 at 13:00

Becoming better at managing money is the main reason why adults want to improve their maths skills, according to a poll released today.

The survey, commissioned by the National Numeracy charity, reveals that a third of adults (34 per cent) want to improve their numeracy or maths skills.

Of these, 37 per cent say they want to improve so that they can manage budgets better and spot good deals. This comes ahead of managing everyday activities such as cooking and DIY (26 per cent), understanding statistics in the media (25 per cent) and getting a job (7 per cent).

Among parents, helping their children is the most common reason (46 per cent).

More than a third of respondents (35 per cent) say they have found some aspect of everyday life challenging because it involved maths or numeracy.

National Numeracy said the findings highlighted the “vital importance” of numeracy skills in underpinning money sense.

Chief executive Mike Ellicock said: “If you don’t understand the basic maths – if, for example, you don’t get the concept of percentages - you are going to struggle to make good decisions about your money, no matter what changes yesterday’s Budget brought.

“This seems to us blatantly obvious and many of those questioned in the YouGov poll get it, but it still attracts scant regard by so many in the financial sector.”

Mark Rennison, group finance director at Nationwide Building Society, which co-founded National Numeracy, said: “Knowing your numbers isn’t just for the classroom; it’s a valuable skill that lasts a lifetime. Poor numeracy remains an issue that needs to be addressed."

The charity is calling on other financial institutions to “grasp” the importance of good numeracy.

The online poll, National Numeracy’s fourth annual survey of public attitudes to maths and numeracy, questioned more than 2,000 adults from across the UK earlier this month.

The findings also suggest a significant shift in views about maths skills.

While previous surveys have shown people are much more likely to feel embarrassed to admit they are struggle with reading and writing than maths and numbers, this year the gap has narrowed.

Some 63 per cent say they would be embarrassed to tell someone they were no good at maths and numbers, the first time the figure has gone significantly above 50 per cent.

The poll also finds that only half of people surveyed (51 per cent) feel GCSE maths has prepared them well for the workplace.

Related stories

Tristram Hunt: new maths qualification needed for learners who fail at GCSE – November 2014

Maths teachers lack confidence and qualifications, report finds – September 2014

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