National statistics show 17 million adults have the numeracy level expected of primary school children. Average cost of poor numeracy to individuals is estimated at £460 a year and to the economy at £20 billion.
The charity National Numeracy points to problems in managing family finances, getting good value as consumers, understanding pay and tax levels. It has designated Wednesday 16 May National Numeracy Day.
At CARBS we see many people who need help with technology; we call that “digital exclusion”.
In effect many are also held back by “numeracy exclusion”.
Problems with benefits, debt, household bills, hire purchase, rent and mortgages are among the most common. All are either caused, or made worse, by a poor grasp of numbers.
Bobby Seagull, University Challenge and maths celeb, recently showed the potential impact of not fully understanding compound interest on a loan*. He wrote:
A 1 per cent daily charge may sound trivial. But on a £1000 loan you will rack up interest of £347.85 a month, or £36,783.43 in a year.
The case is extreme, but the point is powerful.
* ‘It’s time for maths lessons to enter the real world’, Financial Times, 12/05/18