Money Advice Service research establishes link between numeracy and managing money

· ‘Numeracy and Financial Capability: Exploring the Links’ report proves the link between numeracy skills and the ability to manage money

· 11 million people are over confident in their skills, and 7.5 million people lack both confidence and skills in using numbers in everyday life

· 25–34-year-olds are the most over-confident age group when using numbers in everyday life; they are also the most over-indebted age group

The Money Advice Service has released a report today ‘Numeracy and Financial Capability: Exploring the Links’ which proves the link that numeracy skills have a direct impact on managing every day financial decisions.

The link between numeracy and financial capability is, on the face of it, an obvious one – this research provides confirmation that the link exists.

The term ‘numeracy’ is often used to refer to ability at maths, however it does not translate automatically to the practical numeracy people need in adult life, including the skills needed to manage money effectively day to day, and plan for the future.

The report has found that it isn’t just about skills, mindset plays an important role too. In particular, whether people have confidence in their abilities in working out money calculations, reading financial documents and making key financial decisions in adult life. But this can cut both ways.

The report suggests that alongside wider efforts to tackle low levels of numeracy, there needs to be specific work focused on overcoming issues related to confidence, and support based around real life scenarios.

Some people are at risk of making poor decisions because they doubt themselves, even though they have the skills they need. Equally, though, others will make questionable choices as a result of thinking they know more than they really do, which could ultimately lead people in to debt as a result.

Millions of people in the UK struggle to manage their money

· 17 million people – around four in ten of the UK working-age population – have less than £100 in savings, making them highly vulnerable to the impact of a financial shock such as redundancy, long-term illness or even just a large unexpected bill.

· Nearly a quarter routinely use a credit card, or use high-cost short-term credit to manage their day-to-day expenses.

· And latest figures suggest there are more than 8 million people who frequently have difficulty meeting their bills and credit commitments, or feel their debts are a heavy burden.

The Money Advice Service is working alongside the Education Endowment Fund and Young Enterprise in secondary schools and colleges in England to test the concept of teaching mathematics in a financial context, with results expected by 2019.

David Haigh, Director of Financial Capability at the Money Advice Service said: “Numeracy is more than the ability to use numbers or gain a maths qualification. It is about having the confidence and competence to use numbers and data in everyday situations to make good financial decisions. Being financially capable gives people the power to make the most of their money and improve their lives – and without such capability it means that many adults in the UK are just not in control of their finances. This research has deepened our level of understanding and we now need to respond collectively and strategically to these findings and issues”.

Why don’t you test your own numeracy skills with this short quiz.

Notes to Editors:

· Click here for the full report.

· For media enquiries contact: Lena Nunkoo or Rosanna Head on 020 7943 0593 or

· Numeracy and Financial Capability: Exploring the links is based on a representative survey of more than 2,000 working age adults in the UK who were scored for their numeracy after being asked a number of questions (everyday money calculations, reading financial documents and calculations based on financial concepts). They were also asked about their confidence and attitudes in relation to numeracy and money and about their financial behaviour (e.g. how often and how much they saved and whether they kept up with bills).

· About the Money Advice Service

The Money Advice Service is an independent organisation. It gives free, unbiased money advice online at, over the phone on 0300 500 5000, and face-to-face right across the UK. The Service was set up by Government and is paid for by a statutory levy on the financial services industry, raised through the Financial Conduct Authority. Its statutory objectives are to enhance the understanding and knowledge of members of the public about financial matters (including the UK financial system); and to enhance the ability of members of the public to manage their own financial affairs.