Millions of Brits lack confidence when it comes to calculating their exact outgoings

By Richard Jenkins
Thursday, 19th May 2022, 4:05 pm
Updated Tuesday, 24th May 2022, 3:09 pm

A study of more than 3,000 adults despite over half in Yorkshire know their total monthly outgoings, 36 per cent rely either entirely or in part on someone else to take care of the bills for them.

It emerged that 29 per cent in Yorkshire feel uncomfortable seeking help with everyday maths, with some of the main struggles including adjusting a recipe to serve more or fewer people or working out if they’ve received the correct change.

Over one in five said past experiences have made them doubt their mathematics ability, and the same amount feel they always seem to get things wrong.

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Of those who do lack number-confidence, 43 per cent would like to improve their numeracy, but don’t know where to start.

While 43 per cent have made jokes about their lack of numeracy skills to make light of something they actually worry about.

The importance of numeracy

In fact, 41 per cent in Yorkshire believe a lack of confidence surrounding numeracy has held them back, according to the OnePoll figures.

As many as 73 per cent said their lack of mathematical ability hasn’t been a massive problem for them in the past – until now, as the recent price hikes have left 40 per cent struggling to budget.

Another 26 per cent also admitted it is just too stressful to even begin to think about how they’re going to pay the bills, with 57 per cent looking for ways to stretch their cash further.

In response to the findings, a new quiz was launched earlier this week for National Numeracy Day to see how confident you are in your everyday maths ability - from working out a discount on a purchase to choosing a product based on best value for money.

National Numeracy Day is run by the charity National Numeracy and Founding Supporter KPMG, which commissioned the research.

Sam Sims, Chief Executive of National Numeracy, said: “As this new research shows, low numeracy can prevent us from being in control of our money and seeking help when we need to.

"But everyone can improve their confidence with numbers – National Numeracy has helped over 420,000 people do just that.

“Feeling confident with maths can help us make sense of our money, which is more important now than ever.

“Numeracy Day raises awareness of the importance of numeracy to personal lives, career development and the economy.

"And it empowers people to take the first steps to improving their number confidence and skills at this critical time.”

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Some things are out of people's control

It also emerged that nearly seven in 10 in Yorkshire feel there is little they can do about the rising cost of living, or that it’s simply out of their control.

Bina Mehta, Chair of the professional services firm in the UK, said: “The rising cost of living puts our nation’s numeracy skills firmly under the microscope.

“We all use numbers to navigate day-to-day life – from understanding interest rates to working out value for money while shopping – yet nearly half of the UK’s working population has the expected numeracy levels of a primary school child.

“That has real consequences for those lacking confidence, leaving them more vulnerable to debt, unemployment and fraud.

“Beyond the concerning impact on individuals, poor numeracy skills also inhibit our country’s productivity and ability to tackle inequality.

"Numeracy – alongside literacy and lifelong learning – is a key building block for improved social mobility. It lays the foundation for a healthier and more inclusive economy.

“Nearly a third of people believe that if you are bad with numbers, there is no way to improve, but we need to dispel that myth. It’s a skill like any other that can be improved.

“Now more than ever, our collective efforts will help to improve number confidence for all. It may not be a silver bullet in solving the cost-of-living crisis alone, but it is at the heart of helping people confidently navigate it.”

If you’d like to improve your own numeracy skills, then head to https://www.nationalnumeracy.org.uk/challenge/media