MyBnk, a UK charity delivering financial education and enterprise programmes to 5-25 year olds, has won a Guardian Charity of the Year Award for their work. Their CEO, Guy Rigden, reflects on 2016 and the cause for collective optimism.
Our sector leads with the ‘need’ when advocating financial education. It is great, universal, and is an issue, that as a nation, we have not fully addressed.
Many passively assume learning how to manage money is something that ‘just happens’ but few dispute the necessity once the challenges and consequences are evidenced. We know just 40% of UK pupils receive money lessons, that debt is one of the young’s biggest fears and that some university students are turning to payday loans for day to day expenses. All the while, personal debt creeps over £1.5 trillion.
However, well-intended tub-thumping can distract us and others from the advances of the last twelve months, highlighting the need to ‘do something’, rather than the more nuanced ‘doing something well, relevant for those that need it, when they need it’.
2016 saw a myriad of reports, examining the state of play in provision, make strong recommendations. The All Party Parliamentary Group on Financial Education for Young People considered schools, The Children’s Society the care system, and Martin Lewis probed money and mental health. All demonstrated that effective money lessons should be a right and are not happening consistently.
We witnessed great strides at building the underlying architecture to address impact and effectiveness. In late 2015 the Money Advice Service (MAS) published the Financial Capability Strategy for the UK. This year MAS issued an evaluation toolkit for providers, refined an Evidence Hub for funders and researchers and held a hugely successful awareness week for civil society, government and business to engage with solutions.
Other changes are starting to take shape. Collaboration is rightly the buzzword, as civil society, government and financial services work together and move away from the false economy of creating initiatives in silos with limited impact and ability to scale. MyBnk is a big supporter of the aims of MAS’ What Works Fund, which from next year will support robust evaluation of more than 60 financial education interventions. Armed with evidence, the case for what to scale can be made.
As a sector, we also have to consider practicalities. For example, to form good money habits starting early at school is vital but schools are self-governed, committed and very stretched. For all pupils to get effective financial education teachers must have choices. Some schools will require a ‘gold standard’ of teacher training and a holistic whole-school approach. Others may add or substitute practical solutions with the aid of outside support. On the frontline, MyBnk continues to deliver expert-led and youth co-created workshops to tens of thousands of young people a year, similarly, so does The Money Charity. Trainers at pfeg regularly register school-based Centres of Excellence and many pupils and teachers take financial literacy qualifications with The London Institute for Banking and Finance.
The needs of young people are always developing. MyBnk is responding by expanding provision to primary schools and mapping employability and digital skills into debt intervention and life-transition workshops. We are taking on and developing The Money House , a project for those leaving care and for young tenants, helping to prevent homelessness. There is also increasing demand to export our knowledge to international organisations such as Global Potential in France and Foder in Turkey.
The Guardian Charity of the Year Award recognises MyBnk and the amazing progress of financial education in society as a whole. With increasing support from civil society, industry and state, financial literacy for young people is now at the forefront of the progressive life skills agenda. Work remains, but today we should celebrate the progress in our collective mission to create a financially capable generation.
For more information on MyBnk’s programmes and consultation services, please visit www.mybnk.org