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Centre for Financial Capability director, Stewart Perry, on the Empowerment of Financial Literacy

Within England, zero hours are allocated to financial education within the primary curriculum.

Research shows that 77% of children believe that financial knowledge will help them when they are older, yet none of them receives adequate financial education.

Similar to other advanced economics, the UK ranks below the OECD average of consumers developing individual money management skills. Likewise, disposable income inequality increased to 35.7% in the most recent financial year – a 1.3% increase on the previous.

The Centre for Financial Capability (CFC) believes that ‘every child in the UK should be supported to develop the skills and behaviours necessary to navigate critical financial decisions later in life, starting at primary school.’ We spoke with CFC director, Stewart Perry, on the force behind their mission.

“Financial education is vital because our relationship with money impacts almost every aspect of our lives, including our health, relationships, career prospects and overall happiness,’ says Stewart.

Stewart’s previous role with FTSE 250 management firm Quilter allowed him to help good causes all around the country. Through running the charitable foundation, Stewart learnt the importance of helping young people within the community: “Quilter was one of the 20 original supporters of the centre, so it's very closely involved in that initiative and supporting the CFC in its mission - that was my direct relationship.’

“I’m very interested in the subject, not only from working at Quilter, but also just from my own experiences and understanding money and recognising just how important it is to get the basics right and how empowering it can be, particularly for those that may come from a background where money isn't spoken about in such a big way.

“Improving financial literacy enables people to earn more, make more informed financial choices and build financial security. All of which underpin our overall sense of security, fulfilment and well-being.

For Stewart, no two days are the same: “We’re at a pivotal time for financial education. One of the things that we’ve been campaigning for the last 12 to 18 months is for the government to use the extension of something that’s called the Dormant Assests Scheme (DAS).

“The DAS is a pot of money to be used for funding more effective financial education and scaling so that every child and young person in the UK gets to benefit from it.’

£76 million was tied up in forgotten accounts that will now be going to those struggling the most with the cost-of-living. An estimated £738 million is expected to be made available soon that will benefit financial literacy among other things.

“Around 1 in 5 young people receive any financial education in the UK at the moment which is very low. [KM2(1] But there are regional disparities and disparities between those that are from lower income backgrounds versus those from maybe more affluent areas.

“So, it’s a real problem universally, but then if you think about social mobility, which is something I’m really passionate about personally, it’s a huge problem because that can hold you back.

Recently, the CFC have heard from Government that thanks to a lot of their campaigning, the DAS is being extended to include community wealth funds that will allow local residents to improve their communities.

“A lot of our stakeholders were held around the table with government late last year and bringing financial service companies and financial education charities together to say ‘look, we think you need to focus more on prevention, this is an issue that’s actually partly caused by people not confident enough or not wishing to engage in money’”

For the CFC, more funding will enable them to push for a greater level of financial education within the curriculum: “Improving financial literacy enables people to earn more, make more informed financial choices and build financial security. All of which underpin our overall sense of security, fulfilment and wellbeing.”

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