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Statement: MAS Farnish Report & Financial Education

 

DSC_0050Christine Farnish has published a report into the functions and funding of the Money Advice Service. Some recommendations directly relate to the work MyBnk does in delivering financial education workshops to young people in schools:

  • That MAS should invest in promoting financial education in schools, coordinating and quality-assuring existing schemes, as well as bringing resources together for teachers and awarding prize funds to leading and innovative schemes.
  • That MAS should issue grants and service commissioning to encourage other providers to ‘develop products that fill gaps or provide innovative ways of educating and informing consumers’.
  • MAS should play greater role in coordinating sector.
  • That UK Financial capability remains low & praise for debt advice – of which MyBnk is sub-contracted to provide the face-to-face element.

Our initial thoughts:

“Whilst MyBnk is concerned at the central recommendation to cut funding for financial capability rather than reallocate it, there are some encouraging findings.

The call for MAS to support financial education in schools adds to a strong premise backing central funding of expert-led provision and offers a timely reassessment of the state of play for financial capability in the UK.

Farnish’s recommendation, to encourage co-ordination in the sector, could be easily realised by establishing a kite-mark system and database of providers so schools can choose trusted and effective providers. Unfortunately, existing quality marks do not take account of initiatives that are delivered directly to young people. MAS is perfectly placed to provide this framework and improve access to the many quality education materials, financial apps, planners and calculators available at no or low cost. However, we question whether seeking to avoid duplication and share resources amongst competing commercial, state and charitable providers is either feasible or desirable.

The gap

The gap is not resources or innovation, it is effective delivery. MAS should not just focus on innovation, gaps and prizes – it could commission and evaluate existing provision including from outside experts, with the objective of reporting back as to what is effective.

The consumer, a young person, widely differs from the adult seeking advice facing immediate financial issues. Young people need to be actively engaged. A point MyBnk has repeatedly made is that teachers are not financial experts and financial experts are not teachers. Whilst teachers can engage, the absence of extra training, evaluation and time restrictions mean ‘teaching to pack’ using off the shelf resources, is highly unlikely to be effective.

Long term solution

Longer term we believe the Farnish report, MAS and the Government misspecify what is needed for ubiquitous, unbiased, relevant and effective financial education. The commercial sector cannot be expected to fund it, the charitable sector cannot afford to. Provision is and should be the responsibility of the school’s themselves – MAS can help move us forward, making sure this happens. MAS should not only consider what is most effective but what can practically be introduced given the pressure on schools. In our view, and that of OECD Pisa study, this is more likely to be relatively short stand-alone provision to fit with the existing structure of drop-down days.

One solution is independent expert-led provision of financial education in schools as recommended by the Centre for Social Justice – this has been proven highly effective by Oxford ISIS Consultants. MyBnk can cover everything required on the national curriculum at a cost of £ 20-25 per young person.

The time has come to properly fund its delivery”.

For more information, contact info@mybnk.org or call 0207 377 8770.

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