Half of UK adults lack basic numeracy skills

Published on 1 January 1970 by Raffick Marday

A staggering 17 million adults have poor numeracy skills, a fact that is having a devastating impact on their personal and financial futures.

The latest data from independent charity, National Numeracy revealed that 49% of the UK’s working population has inadequate skills in numeracy.

This group has mathematical knowledge that is equivalent to a child of primary age.

The numeracy skills of one in two adults are so poor that they potentially fail to understand the pay and wage information on their wage slips. As a result, 80% of adults would be embarrassed to tell someone they had weaknesses in reading and writing, while in contrast just 56% would be shy about sharing their poor grasp of maths.

Chris Humphries, chair of National Numeracy and former chief executive of the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES), said:

"It is simply inexcusable for anyone to say ‘I can't do maths'. It's a peculiarly British disease, which we aim to eradicate. It doesn't happen in other parts of the world, and it's hitting our international competitiveness.

“With encouragement and good teaching, everyone can improve their numeracy."

In contrast to the picture for numeracy, there has been a significant increase in the number of adults with literacy skills equivalent to a GCSE A*-C . This has increased from 44% to 57% since the last survey in 2003. While the figure for numeracy has actually fallen from 26% to 22%.

A lack of numeracy skills could affect lives as many take on credit cards and personal loans without a full understanding of payment and interest breakdowns. It is important for borrowers to know how to secure the best deals possible.

Compare Prepaid offers a number of credit cards, bank accounts and prepaid credit cards that could help you manage your finances.


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