You are here: Home - Household Bills - News -

Half of UK adults have numeracy skills of a primary school child: take the test now

Written by:
Millions of adults lack basic numeracy skills, leaving them unprepared for the workplace and everyday life, according to a new report.

Around half of working-age adults have the numeracy level of a primary school child and this is costing the economy £388m a week, the charity National Numeracy says.

It asked 2,000 adults aged 16-75 five multiple choice maths questions. Respondents were given no time limit and were free to use a calculator or pen and paper to help work out the answers.

More than half (56 per cent) of people scored 2 or fewer, roughly equivalent to the level expected of a primary school child.

In a follow up survey, 101 MPs were asked to estimate the percentage of people with poor numeracy and the cost of poor numeracy to the economy.

Some 83 per cent underestimated the number of adults with numeracy skills at primary school levels and 89 per cent underestimated the cost of poor numeracy to the UK economy, with the average of the estimates being £214m, which falls short of the actual figure of £388m per week.

Business leaders also underestimated the scale of the problem.

Confidence with numbers was found to be at its lowest among those who have just exited the education system, according to the report, published in association with interdealer broker TP ICAP.

Fear of maths is the biggest barrier to a good numeracy score, as opposed to actual ability.

The charity is calling for a national campaign to build confidence with numbers and encourage a growth mindset.

Mike Ellicock, chief executive of National Numeracy said:“There are millions of people whose confidence with numbers has been completely shattered for one reason or another. It’s the number one barrier to improvement – yet none of the adult skills initiatives over the years, including those currently proposed, pay any attention to overcoming this.

“It’s encouraging to see that MPs and business leaders agree with our call for a renewed focus and it’s vital that the next government act to definitively change things.”

Bobby Seagull, television presenter, maths teacher and National Numeracy ambassador said: “As a school maths teacher, I have seen too many young people and their parents experiencing maths anxiety. This can damage their long-term confidence with numbers.

“As a nation, we need to challenge the notion that only a certain kind of person can do maths. With the right attitude, effort and support, we can build a nation where everyone can be confident with numeracy.”

How good are your skills?

Here are the questions National Numeracy posed in its survey. See below for the answers.

  1. If a scarf costs £11.70 after a 10% reduction, what was the original price?
    a) £12.50
    b) £13.25
    c) £13.99
    d) £13.00
    e) I don’t know
  2. Mike’s lunch contains 640 calories of energy. What percentage is this of his target daily intake of 2000 calories?
    a) 45%
    b) 62%
    c) 65%
    d) 32%
    e) I don’t know
  3. Rail tickets increased by 2% in year 1, and 5% in year 2. What was the overall increase over the two years?
    a) 7%
    b) 7.1%
    c) 10%
    d) 10.7%
    e) I don’t know
  4. These are three offers on the same ketchup. Which is the best value for money?
    a) 275g for £1.05
    b) 454g for £1.99
    c) 650g for £2.20
    d) 425g: buy two for £3.10
    e) I don’t know
  5. A laptop costs £899, including VAT at 20%. How much of the purchase price is VAT?
    a) £179.80
    b) £89.80
    c) £125.00
    d) None of these
    e) I don’t know



Answers: 1: d, 2: d, 3: b, 4: c, 5: d

Related Posts

There are 0 Comment(s)

If you wish to comment without signing in, click your cursor in the top box and tick the 'Sign in as a guest' box at the bottom.

Autumn Statement: Everything you need to know at a glance

Yesterday Chancellor Jeremy Hunt made his first fiscal statement in the role, outlining a range of tax measure...

End of Help to Buy: 10 alternatives for first-time buyers

The deadline for Help to Buy Equity Loan applications passed on 31 October. If you’re a first-time buyer who...

Moving to an energy prepayment meter: Everything you need to know

As households struggle with the soaring cost of energy, tens of thousands of billpayers are expected to move o...

What will happen if rates change

How your finances will be impacted by a rise in interest rates.

Regular Savings Calculator

Small regular contributions can build up nicely over time.

Online Savings Calculator

Work out how your online savings can build over time.

DIY investors: 10 common mistakes to avoid

For those without the help and experience of an adviser, here are 10 common DIY investor mistakes to avoid.

Mortgage down-valuations: Tips to avoid pulling out of a house sale

Down-valuations are on the rise. So, what does it mean for home buyers, and what can you do?

Five tips for surviving a bear market mauling

The S&P 500 has slipped into bear market territory and for UK investors, the FTSE 250 is also on the edge. Her...

Money Tips of the Week