UK’s first National Numeracy Day celebrates the importance of numbers as new research reveals half of Brits struggle with everyday tasks involving numeracy
· 37%* of us have felt stressed about everyday tasks involving numeracy, whilst almost half (45%)* admit to struggling with these tasks
· 18.5m** working age adults have poor or low numeracy levels yet only 36%* of those surveyed online say they want to improve
· First National Numeracy Day highlights the benefits of good numeracy and encourages people to take action to improve their skills
New research released today to mark the launch of the UK’s first ever National Numeracy Day has shown that anxiety around numeracy and maths could be holding back millions of people from getting on at work or getting a better deal on their personal finances. The charity behind National Numeracy Day, National Numeracy, along with the campaign’s founding supporter KPMG, are hoping the event will raise awareness of the many benefits of good numeracy and help people to feel more confident in improving their skills.
The research carried out online by YouGov on behalf of National Numeracy, surveyed over 11,000 people and revealed that almost half (45%) of UK adults have struggled with everyday tasks involving numeracy, whilst 37% have found these tasks to be stressful due to the maths involved. The tasks they struggled with most included calculating exchange rates on foreign currency (17%), working out how an annual percentage change affects the payment due on a loan or credit card repayment (16%) and checking that they have been taxed the right amount on a payslip (13%).
Martin Lewis, Founder of MoneySavingExpert.com, is an official ambassador for National Numeracy and comments: “Good functional maths is the sword in our consumer protection armour. Yet sadly, even with a calculator, most people couldn’t work out the monthly repayments on a £5,000 personal loan at 10% interest over five years. There’s a core reason why Brits were ripped off by nearly £30billion with PPI mis-selling, whilst lenders relied on people not to notice repayments were £20ish a month higher than they should’ve been. This is why I support National Numeracy Day. Numbers impact our daily lives. I’d love people to let go of their fear, and try to improve their skills using National Numeracy’s online assessment tool so that their maths makes life easier”.
Despite admitting to struggling with everyday numeracy tasks, the majority of people don’t identify themselves as being poor at maths. In fact, many of us may be overestimating our numeracy skills, with 64% of those surveyed rating their numeracy as good or excellent – in contrast to a recent Money Advice Service report which suggests that at least 18.5m working age adults have poor or low numeracy levels.
Mike Ellicock, Chief Executive of National Numeracy, says: “We know from experience that attitudes have a huge role to play in holding people back from improving their numeracy skills, with many people telling us they are just not ‘numbers people’ or that they don’t believe they need to improve. However, we believe that many of us are just getting by when we could be getting ahead: earning more, saving more and doing the things we love better. Simply by getting a better grip on our numbers.”
When it comes to attitudes to improving numeracy, just over a third (35%) of people surveyed said they would like to improve – and for those that said they didn’t, it was because almost two thirds (65%) didn’t think they needed to and 30% didn’t see how it would benefit them. But the benefits of good numeracy are clear; not just for those looking to get a better deal on personal finances, but also for those hoping to get on at work.
Adrian Harris found his job prospects improved significantly after using the National Numeracy online assessment tool (the Challenge) to build his confidence with numbers and help get him off universal credit: “A friend told me to look up the National Numeracy Challenge and give it a go, as she felt it might help. Before using the online tool, like many I felt that numeracy was a necessary evil and I would always avoid situations where the pressure of quick maths was needed. Taking part in the online assessment was a wonderful thing. Not only did it help me to set and keep budgets and estimate costs whilst doing my shopping, but it gave me confidence to get out there in the jobs market. I don't feel the number blindness of old’.
The survey showed that almost one in five (19%) of us admitted to making a mistake with numbers at work, while 7% have felt stressed due to the maths involved in our jobs. Just 4% of workers say they have been given training and support by their employer to improve their numeracy.
According to Melanie Richards, Deputy Chair of KPMG, having good maths skills will help you progress at work, even if your dream job isn’t in finance: “No matter which industry or job you work in, as you move up the career ladder, you will become involved in making financial decisions and eventually may be responsible for budgeting and financial planning. So even if your chosen career doesn’t involve numbers at first glance, good numeracy will still be really important to help you achieve your future goals.
“KPMG is backing National Numeracy Day because whilst the UK has made progress on improving literacy levels, numeracy levels have gone backwards. Right now, those without good numeracy get held back in all areas of life and we want that to change. The first step is to debunk the myth that if you are ‘bad with numbers’ you can’t improve because that’s not the case. I’d urge anyone who isn’t confident in their ability when it comes to numbers to go online and try the National Numeracy Challenge tool.”
The inaugural National Numeracy Day is aiming to help thousands of people to take action to improve their number skills over the next year, starting by checking their current numeracy level using the free online assessment tool and if needed, using the free resources to help them gain greater skills and confidence with numbers.
National Numeracy Day is being run by UK charity National Numeracy and KPMG, with support from Cisco, Columbia Threadneedle Investments, Experian, Education Scotland & the Scottish Government, Health Education England (NHS), M&G Investments, NS&I, Provident Financial Group, NatWest, TP ICAP, Ufi Charitable Trust and Virgin Money.
For more information or to get involved today visit, www.numeracyday.com.
For further information, images or requests for interview please contact Carrie Greene or Olivia Howard at Forster Communications on 0207 403 2230 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. A further sample of numeracy quiz questions are also available on request.
Notes to editors
About National Numeracy day
National Numeracy Day is a celebration of numbers and how we use them in everyday life. It brings together individuals, employers, educators and supporters from across the UK to show the importance of numbers and the benefits of using them more effectively.
National Numeracy Day encourages people to feel curious about how numbers can benefit them, know how they can develop their numeracy skills and be confident that they can improve.
The campaign is run by the UK charity National Numeracy. The first National Numeracy day is on 16th May and has been created with founding supporter KPMG and with support from Cisco, Columbia Threadneedle Investments, Experian, Education Scotland & the Scottish Government, Health Education England (NHS), M&G Investments, Ns&I, Provident Financial Group, NatWest, TP ICAP, Ufi Charitable Trust and Virgin Money, who all share our belief that we are all #numberspeople.
Find out more at www.numeracyday.com
About National Numeracy
National Numeracy is an independent organisation, founded in 2012, committed to transforming attitudes and achievement in numeracy across the age range. In particular it focuses on those with low levels of numeracy. National Numeracy is a registered company (company no: 7886294) and charity (charity no: 1145669). www.nationalnumeracy.org.uk
KPMG LLP, a UK limited liability partnership, operates from 22 offices across the UK with approximately 14,500 partners and staff. The UK firm recorded a revenue of £2.2 billion in the year ended 30 September 2017. KPMG is a global network of professional firms providing Audit, Tax, and Advisory services. It operates in 152 countries and has 189,000 professionals working in member firms around the world. The independent member firms of the KPMG network are affiliated with KPMG International Cooperative ("KPMG International"), a Swiss entity. Each KPMG firm is a legally distinct and separate entity and describes itself as such.
All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 11012 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 10th - 17th April 2018. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).
*Poll by YouGov on behalf of National Numeracy, April 2018
**A MAS (Money Advice Service) report in November 2017 – ‘Adult Numeracy and Financial Literacy’ found that in a survey of 2,086 UK working-age adults who took a numeracy assessment, 45% were found to have poor or low numeracy levels