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London boasts of being global financial hub but four in 10 struggle with numeracy

One in five adults said that they would avoid applying for a job if it required numeracy. Photo: Getty
One in five adults said that they would avoid applying for a job if it required numeracy. Photo: Getty

Despite London being one of the world's biggest financial hubs, four in 10 people in the UK do not feel confident using numbers in their everyday lives according to a new survey.

Additionally, one in five would avoid jobs that involve using numbers often, according to the study published by the Association of British Insurers (ABI) on Tuesday.

Over a third (37%) said that having easier access to online maths tools would help them, and 25% feel that clearer explanations would increase their confidence in working with numbers.

The ABI said that it has teamed up with Plain Numbers, a company that works with firms to help their staff present and explain numbers clearly and simply to help improve customer understanding.

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Its other advisory partners include the Bank of England and the Treasury.

Read more: London outlier in unequal UK with big regional differences in pay and jobs

Barry O’Dwyer, ABI president and Royal London Group CEO said: "The insurance and long-term savings sector is committed to being as clear and straightforward with customers as possible. Numbers and their context are a big part of this.

"This partnership with Plain Numbers is a significant step forward in helping customers have greater confidence when dealing with financial products, and I would urge insurance and long-term savings firms to join the initiative.”

The struggle to understand numbers is effecting people's ability to navigate their personal finances. Photo: Getty
The struggle to understand numbers is effecting people's ability to navigate their personal finances. Photo: Getty (Getty Images)

Other firms that have signed up to the initiative include Aviva, Direct Line Group, Royal London, RSA and Standard Life, part of Phoenix Group.

As well as improving people's confidence in entering jobs which involve numbers, the initiative hopes to increase consumer's confidence in navigating their own personal finances.

71% of the 2,000 adults surveyed said that better explanations of numbers in insurance and long-term savings documents has helped to improve their interaction with the sector.

Yvonne Braun, the ABI’s director of policy, long-term savings and protection, said: “Lack of confidence with numbers can make it very difficult for people to navigate their finances such as mortgages, insurance, retirement planning and, more generally, their household budgets.

She added: "If our sector makes it much easier for people to understand numbers and their context, people’s financial resilience will grow.”

Read more: UK consumer confidence hits seven-month high as COVID fears wane

On Tuesday, the UK insurance and long-term savings industry announced a £55,000 donation to the Financial Times’ Financial Literacy and Inclusion Campaign, which the ABI said will improve financial literacy where it's most vital.

The donation was part of the Covid-19 Support Fund established in May 2020 to support those hardest hit by the pandemic and has raised more than £100 million for UK charities since.

One of the Financial Literacy and Inclusion Campaign's successes was it's Making Money Work’ course which helped people working in the hospitality sector to develop the basic building blocks to manage their money.

Watch: What is Universal Basic Income?