Parents told it's good to talk about money

By on 28/06/2010 in News

Mums and dads across Birmingham are being urged to face up to one of the last great taboos - financial illiteracy.

Parents of children at more than 50 schools will be targeted in a bid to get them openly discussing money matters with their children.

The drive aims to break the cycle of inequality that sees some children continue a legacy of economic instability which can lead to stress and mental ill health.

Birmingham City Council has teamed up with the Consumer Financial Education Body (Cfeb), the Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust and the Personal Finance Education Group (pfeg) to work with parents.

The push takes place during national My Money Week which starts today (June 28th) as part of a Government drive to put financial capability higher up the educational agenda in the face of moves to make it a compulsory part of the school curriculum.

Birmingham's parent focus is unique nationally and involves creating “market places” within school clusters.

Representatives from credit unions, the council's loan shark team, Cfeb, the Citizen's Advice Bureau and other agencies working with families around financial literacy will set up stall at the markets offering advice and guidance.

Jacqui Oldbury, lead officer for Birmingham City Council's Financial Literacy Group, said: “Teaching children how to manage their money is an important step in creating tomorrow's financially savvy adults.

“Schools have a vital role to play in this. But we mustn't forget that parents and carers are by far the most influential people when it comes to teaching young people about money.

“Unfortunately talking about money remains a taboo topic for too many people. It is vital that all adults feel comfortable talking about money both with each other and the young people they care for.”

According to research highlighted by pfeg, an independent charity which supports schools in teaching financial literacy, 66 per cent of Britons believe finance lessons would have helped them deal with today's financial challenges.

Most teachers and parents - 93 per cent – think personal finance should be taught in schools and 90 per cent of children say they worry about money on a daily basis. Nearly a quarter of teenagers – 23 per cent – think overdrafts are an easy way to spend more than they earn.

Susan Cassar, West Midland regional manager for Cfeb, said: “In today's world it is increasingly vital that people are financially literate. The tough economic times that we are currently has demonstrated all too clearly how important money management skills are.

“Far too many people have lived for far too long in a credit card culture that is getting passed on from generation to generation.

“It is only through education that we will break the cycle and that means targeting children as well as adults.”

Studies have also shown a link between poverty and poor mental health.

Lakhvir Rellon, director of community engagement at the Birmingham Solihull NHS Mental Health Foundation Trust, said: “Financial problems such as debt and not having enough money to pay the bills is one of the main causes of stress among individuals and families. In extreme cases it can result in a severe breakdown in mental health.

“Education is key to helping people avoid getting themselves into such stressful situations which is why we are supporting this drive.”

National My Money Week, which is now in its second year and finishes on July 4th.

Speaking at the announcement of the event earlier this year, Ed Balls, Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, said: “It is really important that we teach our children to become savvy consumers and that they learn about money matters like pensions, responsible saving and effective money management.”
Notes to Editors

• My Money Week provides a national focus on financial capability for young people in primary and secondary schools.
• A Bill making financial capability compulsory was going through Parliament but had to be postponed due to the General Election being called.
• Although teaching money skills is currently not compulsory, many schools now include it under Personal, Social and Health Education.
• Birmingham parents will be encouraged to take up family learning opportunities and have access to a range of workshops, drop-in and appointment-based advice clinic from financial inclusion agencies during My Money Week.
• According to financial education charity pfeg 54 per cent, of teachers are interested in learning about saving. One in five children has used their parents' or older siblings' card to purchase items online.
• More than three-quarters - 75 per cent - of seven to 11-year-olds are already saving for the future.
• Ten years is the average age at which children begin to purchase items online

Further information from Birmingham City Council call Shahid Naqvi 0121 303 3635
Further information from the Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust call Emma Brady 0121 301 1298

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