AA Financial Services has welcomed the inclusion of compulsory financial education in the draft National Curriculum revealed last week (7 February 2013).
A 'citizenship course' was promised in plans unveiled by the Secretary of State for Education, which will equip students with day-to-day financial skills. The draft NC is subject to public consultation and will be taught from September 2014.
If young people have a basic understanding of finance, I have no doubt that it will give new confidence to growing families to avoid debt and poor advice
Mark Huggins, director of AA Financial Services
Mark Huggins, director of AA Financial Services and a board member of the National Skills Academy for Financial Services, says that he breathed a massive sigh of relief when he saw that a 'citizenship course' to equip youngsters with basic financial skills was included.
"The NSAFS sees young people leaving school very poorly equipped to manage their money, and handle financial challenges such as budgeting, savings, pensions, handling debt and credit cards," he says.
"Even those looking for a career in the financial services sector need a lot of nurturing and support before they can make a real contribution. If young people have a basic understanding of finance, I have no doubt that it will give new confidence to growing families to avoid debt and poor advice, while the quality of people running the industry will be improved too."
Mr Huggins says that the citizenship course is better late than never, forecasting that it will significantly improve the financial health of the nation in years to come.
"I suspect that many of the country's past financial failings and scandals might be due to a lack of understanding when customers are offered inappropriate financial products."
Mr Huggins points out that every working day Citizens Advice Bureaux deal with more than 8,000 new debt problems.1 Meanwhile, a report from the Institute for Public Policy Research suggested that half of young people say they don't feel financially secure, and 88% said that they felt that it was important to learn something about managing their money."2
He noted that financial education has been included in government plans in the past but has fallen well before the statute book. "Although last week's announcement is a draft, there is such a groundswell of support that I can't see it being dropped again."
13 January 2013
1 Year ending September 2012, Citizens Advice Bureaux in England and Wales dealt with 8,308 new debt problems every day (source: Creditaction.org).
2 'Young people and savings', IPPR November 2012.