One of my roles in Parliament is chairing the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Financial Education for Young People.
It brings together MPs and peers from across the different parties to investigate how the Government can better equip school pupils and other children with the skills they need to look after their finances and live independently.
This week I was very proud to launch our latest ground-breaking report on how to support children growing up in the care sector.
As of March 2018 there were almost 75,500 children living in care, including those in children’s homes, foster placements, secure units, and semi-independent living arrangements. Every year, thousands of young people pass out of the sector and on to independent living.
In fact, they are often thrust into the adult world faster than other children. Most leave care at 16 and reach full independence at 18 – an age at which the Office for National Statistics reports that 90 per cent of the general population are still living at home.
This means it is even more important that the care system ensures that these children receive a basic grounding in running their finances – things such as how to budget, saving, paying household bills, and so forth. They don’t have a bank of mum and dad, or a slow introduction to adult life at college or university.
Both in my work as a personal finance journalist and as an MP working on fraud legislation, I have seen first-hand just how much of a difference financial education can make. Not only does it equip people to save towards their dreams and ambitions, it also helps them steer clear of falling into persistent debt or being a victim of fraudsters.
For young people, it can also keep them out of the clutches of criminal gangs, which are increasingly keen to exploit vulnerable children to smuggle drugs, money, and other contraband. The Government is rightly making a big effort to crack down on this, and proper financial education must be part of the mix.
Our recommendations – which you can read online – offer ministers a clear path towards a better system.
Originally published in the Solihull Mail, 11/07/19.