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Financial Education Summit held in Parliament to advocate for greater early financial education

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Today, MPs and Peers came together with the financial education community to highlight the severe and tragic consequences of the refusal of successive Governments to tackle the issue of financial education and literacy head on. The result is that children, especially those from lower socio-economic backgrounds are having their life chances restricted before they have even left primary school.

Shockingly, 96% of teenagers are worried about money daily, and over half of teenagers are set to be in debt by the time they are 17. A June 2021 survey, conducted on behalf of the Centre, also found that 25% of children as young as 6 are more anxious about money because of the pandemic. These statistics are truly worrying, and it is crucial, now more than ever, that children’s concerns about money are addressed and the mechanics of money demystified.  

The Financial Education Summit, sponsored by John Penrose MP and supported by the Centre for Financial Capability called attention to the importance of implementing financial education in primary schools, to meet the larger goal of increasing financial resilience throughout adulthood and combatting poverty. Chaired by Carol Knight, Chief Executive of TISA and Trustee of the Centre for Financial Capability, the event was hosted in collaboration with John Penrose MP for Weston-super-Mare and the Cabinet Office’s Anti-Corruption Champion. The panel featured speakers John Penrose MP, Stewart Perry from Quilter, a wealth management company, and John Craven, from a social mobility charity.

The event focused on highlighting the necessity of early financial education and presented to both parliamentarians and financial education stakeholders the UK-specific challenges school children face regarding financial literacy. According to a study from the Money and Pensions service, only 48% of children receive a meaningful financial education in the UK. Children in less privileged areas are more disadvantaged when it comes to financial education and developing good money habits early. This can create barriers to social mobility and levelling up as these children progress through university, higher education opportunities, and the workforce. 

This event also saw the formal launch of John Penrose’s policy paper, Poverty Trapped: Why is Poverty Still With Us, After 70 Years of the Welfare State? This paper offers a detailed examination into the reasons behind socioeconomic disadvantages in the UK today, and argues for a greater focus on equal opportunities, skills and education. One of the ways he believes we can do this is by focusing on financial resilience and education.   

John Craven, chief executive of upReach—an award-winning social mobility charity— has long been an advocate for better access to financial resources for students. His address at the Summit emphasised the link between financial education and social mobility, and how the best way to build stable financial futures is early education.

Money habits begin forming at the age of 7, so it is essential that the UK institutes a national curriculum at the primary level that prioritises financial literacy and capability. The Summit in Parliament is just one example of how the Centre for Financial Capability brings awareness to their initiative; they intend to achieve their goal of giving every primary aged child “an effective and high-quality” financial education by 2030. 

The event was followed by a petition hand-in to Number 11 to ask the Chancellor to direct some of the unclaimed money from the Dormant Assets Act to fund financial education. 

John Penrose MP said of today’s event: 

“Done well, financial education to teach students about things like savings, pensions, mortgages, credit cards and weekly budgeting is hugely effective at equipping tomorrow’s adults with the skills and attitudes they will need to live successful and resilient lives. Even when students aren’t taught the basics of financial management at home, schools can fill the gap, and the effects last a lifetime. But there’s a postcode lottery, with some schools treating the topic as a Cinderella subject. So the answer is to make it impossible for any school to get an OFSTED rating of ‘good’ or better if this area isn’t up to scratch, so every school takes it as seriously as pupil safety, and everyone leaves school ready for the adult financial world ahead.

Chair of the Financial Education Summit and trustee of the Centre, Carol Knight said: 

The Centre for Financial Capability is proud to host the Financial Education Summit and bring the pertinent issue of unequal and sometimes nonexistent access to early financial education for primary school children to Parliamentarians’ attention. The Centre firmly believes that every child in the UK should be supported to develop the skills and behaviours necessary to navigate critical financial decisions in later life.”

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