London business title CityAM launched a maths campaign this morning, just weeks after the Evening Standards launched its campaign to improve literacy rates in the capital.
CityAM claimed its campaign had already received backing from education secretary Michael Gove, who will use a speech in the City today to urge businesses to donate to charities like the Further Maths Support Programme (FMSP).
On a budget of only £1.5m a month FMSP has doubled the number of students studying maths at A-level from 5,627 to 11,312.
Gove claimed that a lack of statistical skills means most of society was unable to understand the causes of the global financial crisis in 2008.
In a comment piece CityAM editor Alister Heath said: ‘Tragically, millions of people are unable to grasp fully even the most basic of financial products, such as mortgages or savings accounts. In an era when self-reliance and financial independence are essential, this is a catastrophe and means that many families don’t have the basic tools to run their lives properly.
‘Millions are unable to work out how much they need to save to retire; others don’t understand the consequences of using finance to buy cars or how much extra they would end up paying. Even the basics, such as the concept of compound interest, are a challenge. There is also a limited understanding of economics or of how to value assets, such as property, making bubbles much more likely. It is a shameful failure.”
The goal of CityAM’s campaign is to double FMSP’s budget from £1.5m to £3m over the next year and urged readers to ‘take out your credit cards”.
Heath said the poor level of financial literacy in the UK was largely the result of a ‘defective state education’and media that is ‘loose with numbers”
‘Financial institutions should see donations as a good way to help rebuild their reputation,’he continued,’he said.
‘In the short-term, donations would deflect from the populist anti-City rage. In the longer-term, better educated consumers would make better decisions, reducing mis-selling or mis-buying scandals; people would be more comfortable with financial products, and finance in general, and therefore less likely to view banks, funds and insurers as inherently evil or corrupt.
‘Most important of all, however, building a more numerate and financially literate society would help millions of people regain control of their lives.”