Less than half of UK children have been taught about money

Published on:

Less than half of UK children have been taught about money at home or in school, according to a new report from the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS).

  • Just 47% of children have received a meaningful financial education at home or at school, with millions left without.
  • Those who had are more likely to save, feel confident about money and use a bank account.
  • Money and Pensions Service believes parents, teachers and the financial sector can all help, saying the “race is on to educate the nation’s children.”
  • MaPS targets two million more receiving a financial education by 2030.

Financial Foundations, based on a survey of 4,740 children aged 7-17, found that just 47% had received a meaningful financial education in either or both settings. The figure has remained broadly static since it was last measured in 2019 (48%).

After extending the measure across five and six-year-olds, MaPS is now estimating that 5.4 million children don’t have the money skills they’ll need in adulthood and it’s calling on parents, schools, financial institutions and funders to help.

The poll asked if they remembered getting a financial education at school that they considered useful, with a quarter (23%) saying they had.

They were also asked if they received regular money from either parents or work, if their parents set rules on it and whether they were given responsibility for spending decisions, with 14% saying yes to all three.

A further 10% said both the above scenarios applied to them, meaning a total of 47% had received a meaningful financial education.

The findings also revealed that some children were more likely to receive one than others. Those in Scotland were the most likely (52%), followed by Wales (51%), England (46%) and Northern Ireland (43%).

It was also more common if they were in a higher income household (50% vs. 44% in lower income households), part of a family managing to keep up with bills (48% vs. 41% those falling behind with bills) or living in an urban area instead of a rural one (48% vs. 40%).

The report shows that learning about money helps children to feel more confident managing and talking about money, save more regularly and have a bank account that they use.

As part of its UK Strategy for Financial Wellbeing, released in 2020, MaPS is aiming for two million more children aged 5-17 to receive a meaningful financial education by 2030.

To reach that target, it’s asking all parents to talk to their children about money and combine it with everyday experiences, such as food shopping, budgeting and wages from a part-time job. To help with this, MaPS offers free resources like Talk Learn Do, an online tool that helps parents to start the conversation.

MaPS also says that teachers, school leaders and governors should work together to deliver financial education in the classroom. It’s already investing £1.1 million in support for teachers and practitioners working with vulnerable children.

In addition, MaPS is calling on financial services and funders, like grant-makers and charitable trusts, to increase their investment in the delivery of financial education. It says this will help reach even more children, particularly those in vulnerable circumstances.

Sarah Porretta, Executive Director at the Money and Pensions Service, said: 

“These figures will alarm everyone in financial education because more than five million children could be going without.

“Our experiences in childhood prepare us for adulthood and learning about money is no different. It becomes a part of daily life and our financial decisions can bring real benefits and profound consequences, so it’s crucial to learn from a young age.

“The race is on to educate the nation’s children and everyone from banks and building societies to foundations and financial institutions has a big part to play. Parents and schools can also make a huge difference by combining money skills with everyday experiences, both inside and outside the classroom.

“The target is two million more children to receive a meaningful financial education by 2030. If we work together, we can achieve it.”

– ENDS –

Notes to editors

  • Read a full copy of UK Children and Young People’s Financial Wellbeing Survey: Financial Foundations
  • The measure of a “meaningful financial education” is based on the percentage of children and young people who say they ‘recall receiving financial education at school that they considered useful’ and/or ‘received regular money from parents or from work and their parents set rules about money and give them responsibility for some spending decisions.’ Those who say yes to either or both are considered to have received a meaningful financial education.
  • Research conducted for MaPS by Critical Research among 4,740 children and young people aged 7 to 17 and their parents or carers. 3,766 interviews were conducted using quota-based sampling from online access panels and 974 interviews were recruited using face-to-face interviews from random sampled lists of addresses.
  • Fieldwork occurred between 18/08/22 and 6/11/22.
  • The ONS estimates that there are 8.71 million 7-17 year olds in the UK. MaPS has applied same measure for having received a meaningful financial education (47%) across the UK’s 1.54 million 5-6 year olds, who were too young to take part in the survey.
  • Consequently, MaPS estimates around 5.43 million children have not had a meaningful financial education.

Media enquiries

For media enquiries please contact MaPS Press Office:

020 8132 5284Opens in a new window

media@maps.org.ukOpens in a new window