Building better financial security through education
09 Jun 2021 - Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
Sadly, the past eighteen months or so have tested the financial security of many UK households to their limits, and while I hope the pandemic is a once in a generation shock, I think it will have left many questioning their financial resilience. We live in a world where finances are increasingly complex, and now more than ever, individuals bear the responsibility, and therefore the risk, of managing their finances. But evidence continues to suggest that many individuals just aren’t engaging with or managing their finances effectively, with almost 10m households having no savings whatsoever1, the average total debt per UK household sitting at £60,9352, and well over half of individuals not saving adequately for a comfortable retirement3.
I firmly believe that a key tactic to help improve the overall financial resilience of households across the country is to invest more in financial education, and particularly in the financial education of young people. Getting young people engaged and aware of financial matters sooner rather than later will undoubtedly pay dividends in the future as they develop into adults.
Research from the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS) has shown that less than half of children and young people received a “meaningful financial education”4. It’s no wonder then that savings levels continue to remain low and that debt is an increasing problem.
There are significant financial education services, provided by third sector organisations (Citizens Advice, Young Enterprise among many others) and the financial and professional services sector. However, there is consistent evidence that services are not provided universally, and that quality is patchy. MaPS reported that only 4 in 10 children and young people say they’ve had some financial education at school5. Clearly there is an ongoing and growing challenge to support younger people and embed financial education as a life skill.
This is one of the reasons why in 2019, the Hymans Robertson Foundation appointed MyBnk6 as its financial education partner to bring its award winning survival money management programme Money Works to young people. With our extended charity partner network, we recognised the need (particularly in young people’s employability programmes) to offer specialist education in managing finances. Building financial capability is a key priority for the Foundation. MyBnk is ideally placed to support the Foundation’s ambition.
Throughout the pandemic, MyBnK’s experts have helped hundreds of vulnerable 16-25 year olds take control of their money through workshops and online tools. Games and interactive activities bring money to life and tackle topics such as budgeting, banking, debt and scams. These lessons give care leavers and those not in employment, education or training, the skills, knowledge and confidence to live independently.
The Foundation has a longer-term relationship with MyBnk, particularly in Scotland, to support the development of further services: reaching more children and young people in need and building capacity through schools (and other settings). Despite the pandemic, in Jan-March 2021, MyBnk delivered more financial education sessions than ever before. Much of this was down to creating a suite of virtual workshops which included an accreditation in money management from the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework.
Our charity network identified the need to directly support young people with small grant funds to support them having continued access to education, volunteering and employment opportunities. In October 2020, the Foundation launched its Bursary. In the first 3 months, over 50 young people were supported with grants for data/digital equipment, travel cards, tools etc. The Foundation has extended the UK Bursary in 2021 and MyBnk provides a follow-on service for bursary holders: ensuring that young people can access wider financial education support.
There is opportunity for all of us to support children, young people (and adults) in financial education. So what’s my call to action? Get involved, either through volunteering, mentoring, coaching and direct delivery (through established education programmes). There are many routes to support at an individual or organisational level. The first step is committing to support then seeing it through.
1 The Money Charity 2018;
2 The Money Charity 2021;
3 Hymans Robertson 2021;
4 UK Strategy for Financial Wellbeing | The Money and Pensions Service;
5 UK Strategy for Financial Wellbeing | The Money and Pensions Service;
6 MyBnk - Delivering expert-led financial education to young people