It is estimated that one in seven households in Wales has a constant struggle to make ends meet and that a fifth of households are experiencing financial difficulties. Many such difficulties may arise from poor basic skills with one in four of the adult population having poor literacy skills and about a half having difficulties with numeracy.
The need to understand the link between poor basic skills and financial exclusion and ways in which we can improve the financial competence of the people of Wales will be the subject of a conference to be addressed by Jane Davidson, the Minister for Education and Lifelong Learning.
Also speaking at the conference are Gill Hind from the Financial Services Authority (FSA), Teresa Perchard of the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) and Lindsay Kearton of the Welsh Consumer Council.
Rhiannedd Pratley, Executive Director for Wales at the Basic Skills Agency said,
“On a daily basis we are bombarded with ‘special offers’, ‘cut prices’, ‘nothing to pay until…’ and ‘free loans’. If you’re rich, getting the most for your money might not matter much but if you’re poor it can be a matter of survival. There is a well established link between low basic skills and poverty and it’s a paradox that those who most need to benefit from a ‘bargain’ are least able to make sense of the messages which often mask the true cost of the ‘special offer’.
“Rich or poor, we are all subjected to the same pressures to spend, spend, spend and it would be an unimaginative person who couldn’t recognise that ‘nothing to pay until…’ may seem to be a lifeline to the family desperate to give their children what they see other having. Unfortunately, too many adults and young people lack the level of literacy and maths you need to read between the lines of the advert which is pushing you to spend, and to calculate the true cost in time and money of the deal on offer.
“The Basic Skills Agency is delighted to be working in partnership with the Financial Services Authority, the CAB and other to help adults with low basic skills improve their literacy and numeracy alongside their skills in budgeting and financial management”.
Jane Davidson, Minister for Education and Lifelong Learning said,
"It's far too easy to get into debt. Lenders are adept at convincing borrowers that their deals are best when in fact the deals draw those who need the money most, further and further into the red. Through the National Basic Skills Strategy we are raising the standard of people's literacy and numeracy across Wales to help ensure people don't fall into traps when it comes to their personal finances”.
The conference will take place from 10.15am until 3.15pm on Tuesday 22nd February at the Millennium Centre in Cardiff. A copy of the programme is attached. Members of the media are invited, please inform Rhian Hortin on the number below if you wish to attend.
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1. The first phase of the National Basic Skills Strategy for Wales was launched in April 2001. Since that time the Welsh Assembly Government has allocated £40 million for the Strategy. The Basic Skills Agency has been overseeing the implementation of the National Strategy on behalf of the Welsh Assembly Government. Phase 2 will be launched in April 2005.
2. The Strategy aims to provide a coherent approach to raising standards of literacy and numeracy in children, young people and adults. It involves a number of specific measures and partnership with a range of organisations.
3. The Basic Skills Agency has worked with the Financial Services Authority (FSA) and Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) and others to develop a curriculum framework for the teaching of financial capability in the context of literacy and numeracy. The Agency has also developed a range of resources to support the teaching of financial capability and basic skills.
4. The conference will look at the link between poor basic skills and financial exclusion, and the way in which curriculum managers could plan learning pathways such as providing learning opportunities through financial literacy courses.
5. Following the conference a series of seminars will be held in Llandrindod Wells, Swansea and Cardiff. The aims of the seminars are to disseminate the materials mentioned above to those who may be interested in delivering learning programmes.
6. The Basic Skills Agency is the national development agency for literacy and numeracy in England and Wales. We are funded primary by the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) and the Welsh Assembly Government. Our mission is to contribute to raising standards of basic skills in England and Wales. Our aims are to develop approaches that most effectively improve standards of basic skills and disseminate good practice. Our Patron is HRH The Princess Royal, the Chairman is Garry Hawkes CBE, and the Director of the Basic Skills Agency is Alan Wells OBE.
7. We define basic skills as ‘the ability to read, write, and speak in English or Welsh and use mathematics at a level necessary to function and progress at work and in society in general’.
8. For further information please contact Dilys Alam at the Basic Skills Agency on 020 7440 6618 or email email@example.com. For out of hours media enquiries please call 07776 132226.