Kate Hughes: Memo to No 10... A financial fix that is a no-brainer

The life-long benefits of effective money advice and education is proved by a recent project

An easy fix is rare in the money pages. All possible solutions to our collective woes seem to involve painful pay offs. So when a win-win situation comes up, we tend to grab it, especially when it could save each of us a fortune over the rest of our lives.

Between them, Citizens Advice, Bristol University and the Chartered Institute of Housing, with money from Santander, have spent the best part of a year providing hundreds of Midlands social housing tenants with free financial advice. As a result almost 80 per cent of the participants have changed their spending habits making them better off to the equivalent of a 5 per cent income rise.

Rolled out across the UK's 4.6 million social housing households, the collective benefit could be as much as £36m a week, the Bristol academics have calculated.

Not only that, the project also led to tenants in the study either starting to save money each week or increasing the amount they saved. On average, the participants saved an additional £11 per week from an average income of just £200.

"This project clearly shows the importance of financial education and the difference it can make to households on lower incomes," said Jaime Graham, a Santander director. "A comparison of the participants' views before and after the project found that 71 per cent were more financially confident as a result of the sessions. The tools and knowledge gained from the training will help them organise and manage their household budgets more effectively, equipping them with money skills for life."

It's not a new idea. Organisations like the Personal Finance Education Group, various financial services companies, and some schools have done this kind of thing for years, making a tangible difference for people from all walks of life. This is just the latest chunk of powerful evidence to suggest that it works. It really works.

Reports from schools that offer financial education suggests that pupils not only absorb these lessons, they go home and tell their parents about what they've learnt. They get involved in family finances and are confidently controlling their money by the time they leave school. Just think of the knock-on effects on student debt or the improved circumstances of those looking for work in what is currently a desperate jobs market for the 18-24s.

Teenagers gain from these lessons, but so do their parents. In fact, at one school I contacted, parents evening has begun to look more like an impromptu lesson in budgeting.

A boost in personal finance skills helps keep debt down and disposable income up. And once we're confident of our money situation, surely we're more likely to engage in healthy high-street spending which in itself could help boost the economy. Are you seeing a golden ripple effect in front of your eyes yet? I am.

And, yet, despite this there is still no compulsory financial education in schools. If we had those skills, we could calculate how much would be recovered in benefits. Come on Michael Gove and David Laws, you too Mr Cameron. Your lives are full of tough decisions, isn't it time to make a really easy one?

Independent Partners; Do you need financial advice on your investments, pension or insurance? Book a free consultation with an independent Financial Adviser at VouchedFor.co.uk

Finacial products from our partners
Property search
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Ashdown Group: Editor-in-chief - Financial Services - City, London

    £60000 - £70000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

    Ashdown Group: Junior Application Support Analyst - Fluent German Speaker

    £25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

    Guru Careers: Management Accountant

    £27 - 35k + Bonus + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Management Accountant is needed ...

    Guru Careers: Project Manager / Business Analyst

    £40-50k + Benefits.: Guru Careers: A Project Manager / Business Analyst is nee...

    Day In a Page

    General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
    General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

    On the margins

    From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
    Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

    'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

    Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
    Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

    Why patients must rely less on doctors

    Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
    Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

    Flesh in Venice

    Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
    Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

    Juventus vs Real Madrid

    Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
    Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

    Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

    Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power