Generally, the consensus regarding financial education for children and teens is straightforward: it significantly benefits the younger generations. Despite this, teaching young people about personal finances has failed to become part of the UK curriculum.
To judge the importance of addressing this, a roundtable discussion at Parliament in Wales hosted by GoHenry, the prepaid debit card and financial education app for kids aged six to 18, found that cross-party members of the Senedd are united in supporting the introduction of better financial education for young people across the UK.
The roundtable focused on the benefits of financial education and the current school provisions in Wales – a topic increasingly important during the cost-of-living crisis.
Participants concluded that giving children the practical money skills required to navigate real-world finance successfully is “vital”.
A recent report from the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS) revealed that only 47 per cent of children receive a meaningful financial education either at home or at school – meaning millions are left without this “vital” knowledge. Overall, around 5.4 million children do not currently possess the money skills they’ll need in adulthood.
Ruth Vero, vice president of operations at GoHenry, was present at the roundtable. She commented: “The Senedd roundtable was a hugely encouraging event, which confirmed that everyone is on the same page when it comes to financial education, and the need to get it right.
“Like swimming and cycling proficiency, financial education is an essential life skill that young people should receive expert training on, rather than being thrown into the deep end when they leave full-time education.
“The cost-of-living crisis has made it increasingly clear that something needs to change. Now it is time for the UK Government to sit down with both the education and financial services sector in Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, and work out how we deliver an in-school financial education programme that can benefit each and every young person in this country.”
Embedding financial education into schools
GoHenry research has revealed that adults who have been financially educated in younger years are more likely to be in higher-paying jobs – and could contribute an extra £202billion to the economy by 2050. They would also be, on average, £70,000 richer in retirement. Evidence shows financial education could also result in the formation of 76,400 more businesses every year.
Alongside cross-party MSs, expert speakers at the round table also included: Patrick Jenkins, deputy editor at the Financial Times; Stewart Perry, director at The Centre for Financial Capability; Leon Ward, CEO of UK-based money programme charity MyBnk; and Lee Phillips, Wales manager at MaPS.
James Evans MS, who chaired the discussion, added: “The passion and commitment for delivering effective financial education from those in the financial services sector is unquestionable. So too is the cross-party consensus that this is something we have to get right.
“At present, the financial education provisions in Wales, and across the UK, are some way from where they need to be. I hope this roundtable can be a trigger for both the Welsh and the British Governments to come together to do the right thing for our young people and ensure that effective financial education provisions are embedded in every school, primary and secondary, right across the country.”
Despite clear benefits for individuals across the UK, as well as the wider economy, only time will tell whether the roundtable can provide the necessary impetus to enact change to better the financial education offered to young people.