Why teaching financial skills can be an object lesson in averting a money crisis
A NEW era of thinking on financial education and knowhow will be heralded next week at T alk Money Week events in Scotland.
Royal Bank of Scotland and Edinburgh University will stage an event in the capital exploring the money skills of young people starting work, Aberdeen will host the Talk Money Scotland Conference, and a Money Advice Service (MAS) reception in Edinburgh will mark the Year of Young People.
The annual programme, part of the UK’S Financial Capability Strategy, follows publication last month of evidence from 65 projects funded by the Money Advice Service’s What Works Fund, aimed at finding out what actually works – or does not work – in financial education.
Among the organisations reporting were Young Scot, Age Scotland and Shelter Scotland in the first large-scale and joined-up attempt to understand how best to help people improve their own finances.
Young Scot found that half of all students were unaware of any services in college or university that could help with money management or budgeting. Support was provided on an institutionby-institution basis and there was no consistent provision in terms of access or quality.
Students tended to press the support button only when they were in crisis and needed an emergency lifeline from hardship funds.
Those providing the services, meanwhile, did not necessarily have the right financial product knowledge or the interpersonal and networking skills to do it properly.
Young Scot said recruiting a group of 17- to 23-year-olds to run the programme had produced positive results.
“The young people on the panel generated ideas and solutions that reflect the reality of young people’s experience,” the organisation said.
Age Scotland’s Money Matters roadshows took workshops to existing groups of older people where they normally meet. The charity’s Heather Smith said 81 roadshows had reached 1,200 people and the most popular subjects had been planning for change, benefits entitlements and care costs.
“Four out of 10 people entitled to pension credit aren’t claiming, and nobody knows how care costs work until their family needs to know,” she said. “Most of those who had given a power of attorney did not know what powers they had given to whom.”
Six weeks after the session 82 per cent of attendees had talked to someone about it, 40% had taken some action, and 56% thought it had made a difference.
“Older people are a powerful force for change if you can support them to support their peers,” Ms Smith said.
Shelter Scotland’s Healthy Finances pilot aims to reach the most vulnerable and excluded who will only talk about their financial and housing difficulties when they need medical help.
It works with people presenting at GP practices and hospitals in the most deprived areas of Dundee and Glasgow. The MAS study found that for 153 people referred to the service over 12 months, the support proved successful, boosting incomes, shrinking debts, improving money management skills, and securing better housing. This in turn led to “improved mental health”.
Shelter Scotland reported: “For a sizeable number of clients, an insufficient ability, confidence or motivation to manage their finances well appeared not to be at the root of their housing and financial issues, but rather a consequence of them.”
It said hard-pressed health staff “would welcome a permanent provision of the Healthy Finances service, with increased capacity”.
Dr David Halpern, the Government’s national What Works Adviser, said: “Millions of working age people have less than £100 in savings.
“When the What Works Fund was launched in 2016, the evidence base for how to improve people’s financial capability was thin.
“The fund is now helping advance our understanding of the most effective ways of helping people manage their money better.”
This week Uk-wide research from the London Institute of Banking and Finance revealed the amount of time spent on financial education has dropped sharply in the past year, with only 33% of pupils reporting having a lesson in the past month, down from 43%.
The report said: “Worryingly, 14% said their most recent lesson was ‘in the last term’ and for 23% it had been a year or more since they’d had any financial education.”
The research also found 71% of respondents worry about money – up from 62% in 2017 – while 83% said they want to learn more about money in school.
Every penny counts and teaching children how to manage their finances is thought to be key to better financial decisions when they grow older. Research has revealed the amount of time spent on financial education has dropped sharply in the past year and 83% of pupils questioned in a survey said they want to learn more about money in school.