From education to employment

Majority of English constituencies have problems with basic literacy

person pointing at students note pad

The vast majority of English constituencies – 436 out of 533 (81%) – contains at least one ward which features significant issues with literacy, new analysis reveals. 

The insights are derived from Experian’s and the National Literacy Trust’s Literacy Score, which was developed to measure and map literacy need across the country and based on understanding of socioeconomic factors associated with low literacy including education, employment and income levels.

The study found areas with the lowest levels of literacy were typically close to and around city areas in the North East, North West and the Midlands. The five constituencies with the most severe problems were identified as:

  • Walton (Liverpool)
  • Brightside and Hillsborough (Sheffield)
  • Middlesbrough
  • Wolverhampton South East
  • Nottingham North

Constituencies with the highest levels of literacy were located in the south of the country, including Winchester, North Somerset and North East Hampshire. However, as the study shows, the issue a countrywide problem, impacting communities and areas across England.

Previous research from Experian and National Literacy Trust revealed the relationship between a person’s literacy and financial capability. Children and young people who have good reading skills are four times as likely to have good financial skills than their peers who have poor reading skills. Furthermore, low literacy levels impacts many aspects of people’s lives, including limiting their employment and career opportunities.

By better understanding where low literacy levels are most pronounced, National Literacy Trust uses the insights to prioritise their work, including through a national network of Literacy Hubs and major campaigns.

Colin Grieves, Managing Director, Marketing Services, Experian UK&I, said:

We have a long-established relationship with National Literacy Trust, supporting the vital work they do across the country in helping communities and people improve their literacy skills.

“Only by understanding where a problem exists can solutions and support be put in place. This type of analysis allows us to take a deeper look, identifying wards where the issue is most pronounced and giving the charity an all-encompassing view of the issue.”

Jason Vit, National Literacy Trust, said:

“Working with Experian has given us a unique and powerful new tool to support our ongoing work to tackle low literacy. The Literacy Score lays bare the national spread of the challenge but also enables us to focus our work more effectively and so support the literacy of more families than ever.”

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