Lord Mayor: Being ‘hopeless at maths’ is no laughing matter

The Lord Mayor of the City of London, Nicholas Lyons, has 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 last night.

Gresham College has been providing free public lectures since 1597 and annually the Lord Mayor provides a lecture on financial services.

The event will featured a panel event with Andy Haldane (Vice-Chair of National Numeracy), Sacha Romanovitch OBE (Chief Executive of Fair4AllFinance) and Patrick Jenkins (Deputy Editor of the Financial Times).

An extract from the Lord Mayor’s lecture is found below.

In the UK today, over half of working-age adults have the numeracy level expected of a primary school child.

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.

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.

The Lord Mayor will host the first Financial Literacy and Inclusion Summit at the Mansion House in April. It will bring together academics, charities, businesses, regulators, and politicians.

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