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
Sunday 07 October 2012
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; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown
- 1 Emma Watson on Jennifer Lawrence naked photo leak: 'Even worse than seeing women's privacy violated is reading the comments'
- 2 Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb
- 3 A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
- 4 Cee Lo Green: It is only rape if the victim is conscious
- 5 Nigerian witch-finder Helen Ukpabio threatens legal action against human rights organisations
Rotherham child sex abuse scandal: Labour Home Office to be probed over what Tony Blair's government knew - and when
What do immigrants really think of Britain? Polish immigrant's Reddit post goes viral
Ashya King: Parents of five-year-old boy refused permission to visit him in hospital and denied bail at Spanish court
With Douglas Carswell joining Ukip, my party has taken another giant step forward
When elitism grips the top of British society to this extent, there is only one answer: abolish private schools
Ashya King: 'Cruel NHS has not given us the treatment we need', says father of five-year-old with brain tumour who fled to Spain
iJobs Money & Business
£55000 - £65000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A Global Financial Service Organi...
£60000 - £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A prestigious leading professiona...
£40000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A Global Financial Service Organi...
£50000 - £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: One of the global leaders in prov...
Day In a Page
A first-floor flat with two bedrooms, a spacious reception room and communal grounds in a leafy part of London
A three-bedroom flat with a spacious rootop terrace and balcony, accessed from a private gated courtyard
A Grade II-listed pile with six bedrooms, stables and 39 acres of grounds in Standlake
A two-bedroom flat with boutique hotel-style interiors, close to the foodie haunt of West End Lane
A two-bedroom flat in a beautiful old vicarage, with many original features, close to the city centre
A three-bedroom 16th-century home with an aga kitchen, private gardens and heated outdoor pool, in Hadleigh
A three-bedrom home in sought-after Queen's Gate Mews, with Italian marble-finished bathrooms
Surrounded by glorious countryside in the village of Udimore, sits this impressive four-kiln oast and barn conversion
A five-bedroom house in the picturesque village of Kettlewell, north Yorkshire
An 18th-century former coaching inn with original staircase, open fireplaces and beams throughout
A Grade II-listed Georgian town house with three bedrooms and a south-facing courtyard, near Arundel Castle
Feel on top of the world at this über chic penthouse on the 37th floor of one of Europe’s tallest blocks.
A Grade II-listed Victorian villa with six bedrooms and two further cottages, all with spectacular sea views
A grade II-listed, Georgian cottage with mature 50ft garden, perfect for summer entertaining
A magnificent Georgian pile with turrets, seven bedrooms, a heated pool and four acres of gardens
Fairoak Farm has five bedroom suites, gym, outdoor swimming pool and golf course
Chic two-bedroom river-fronted flat with a private lift that delivers you directly to your home
A spectacular seven-bedroom Tudor pile, once owned by Henry VIII, with 18 acres of land
A seven-bedroom Georgian property previously used as a picturesque wedding venue
A split-level flat in a church conversion with two en suite bedrooms and 1,200sq ft of living space
A three-bedroom bungalow situated behind an impressive stone wall, £645,000
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads
Chapel House is a former vicarage with nine bedrooms in the beautiful Upper Wye Valley
A five-bedroom B&B and separate owner's accomodation with potential for conversion
Enjoy summer by the Thames in this two double-bedroom converted warehouse in Rotherhithe village
A one-bedroom, luxury apartment with private gym and concierge service in Moorgate
A four-bedroom house in Hermitage Gardens with three reception rooms and landscaped gardens
A seven-bedroom Grade II-listed property with a separate self-contained apartment
A five-bedroom Victorian house with three reception rooms and galleried landing, £695,000
A six-bedroom farmhouse with five acres of land in a former cloth-making village
A secluded seven-bedroom detached house with large private garden, £490,000
A three-bedroom cottage overlooking Sarratt village green with open fires and solid oak floors
A three-bedroom maisonette flat in a Grade I-listed, Georgian townhouse in a sought-after location
A one-bedroom apartment located within a private gated development, north of Turnham Green
Look forward to a brighter future at two-bedroom Sunny Cottages, ideal for Londoners looking to downsize
A three-bedroom red-brick cottage with outbuildings and pretty gardens, £200,000
This three-bedroom flat within a former textile factory spans the corner of the fourth floor and has a balcony