National Numeracy’s Leadership Council aims to not only grow the network of organisations and individuals actively addressing the issue of poor numeracy, but also to elevate understanding and importance of the need for these skills at a national level.

This is a cause that is of particular interest to me and extremely relevant and aligned to PFG’s purpose.

That’s why I’m not only pleased to be part of the council, but excited to see where this council, combined with the government’s 2021 budget commitments will take us in the future. 

But why is numeracy so important?

Whilst some of us are quite comfortable using everyday maths, it’s reported that 49% of our working population don’t have the skills they need to do necessary activities in the same way as someone with good numeracy skills can.

If you don’t have experience of what it’s like to have poor numeracy skills, consider how you might feel trying to help your 6-year-old with their homework and being unable to support them; how anxious you might feel trying to work out how many minutes you’ve got to get to your dental appointment. Or what could happen in potentially life-altering scenarios like measuring a dose of medicine incorrectly, calculating how much salt you should / shouldn’t be intaking daily or setting and sticking to a budget.

On a personal level, the consequences of poor numeracy can affect our physical and mental health, our finances and our relationships with others. As children, struggling in this area can lead to social, emotional and behavioural difficulties and as adults, poor numeracy means we’re more than twice as likely to face unemployment as our peers. Tackling poor numeracy could help individuals get jobs with better wages and aid social mobility.

Numeracy skills are important to PFG for so many reasons.

We support financial inclusion and social mobility by lending responsibly to the financially underserved. But for us to be able to do this effectively as a business, we need our colleagues to have the numeracy skills they need to be able to properly support our customers. Our colleagues need to keep accurate records and provide correct information to help us to lend responsibly. 

Whilst we articulate our products in clear terms, our customers also need a certain level of skill to be able to understand our products too. That’s why over four years ago PFG made a commitment to the communities we serve. We established a social impact programme, which plays a part in delivering the “social” agenda of our “Environment, Social & Governance” programme, and enables us to help put people on a path to a better everyday life through funding additional education programmes and volunteering on key projects in the communities we serve.

Whilst National Numeracy Day, of which we are lead supporters and which took place in May this year, empowered thousands of adults to sign up to take the first steps to improve their basic number skills and confidence, our Maths Mastery programme, which runs in five primary schools in Bradford, helps children to develop a deeper understanding of maths, giving them more confidence and ability to move on to the next stage of learning. 

But it’s not just the ongoing relationships we have with National Numeracy and some local schools. Our Grants programme, regularly supports community projects which develop employability skills as well as digital and finance skills.

Good numeracy skills lead to financial confidence.

I’ve discussed the impacts of poor numeracy, but improved numeracy skills are also linked to improved financial decision making. Therefore the more people we can put on a path to improving their mindsets about maths, the greater impact we can have on people’s financial situations too. You might have noticed Vanquis’ Walk Tall TV campaign. This was built on research which told us that people in the UK, including our customers, feel more confident if their finances are in order – but people need basic numeracy skills to get to that point of confidence.  

This is just another reason for me, why being part of this council is so important.

It’s estimated that the cost of poor numeracy in the UK is £20.2billion to our economy each year, so to join the council, join forces with the government, reduce this figure and improve people’s lives through collaboration – is both a privilege and a great opportunity.