Letter to MPs about teaching Personal Finance in schools – fighting the cost of living crisis


On 17 November, I wrote a letter to several Members of Parliament with a Proposal to include the teaching of Economics, Politics, and Personal Finance in Primary and Secondary curriculums. This could help millions of Britons to fight against the impact of the cost of living crisis.

The UK is facing an unprecedented national challenge fuelled by high inflation, low growth, rising taxes and unstable political environment. It is essential that the UK government recognise this challenge and help Britons to both face the challenges ahead of us as well as gain skills to shape and protect our financial futures.

Below is the letter we sent – Avoiding Broke is waiting to hear back.

Proposal to include the teaching of Economics, Politics and Personal Finance in Primary and Secondary curriculums

17 November 2022

FAO:

  • UK Prime Minister
  • Leader of the Opposition
  • Secretary of State for Education
  • Shadow Secretary of State for Education
  • Secretary of State for Levelling Up
  • Shadow Secretary of State for Levelling Up
  • Zarah Sultana, MP and advocate for social mobility for young people 
  • Kwasi Kwarteng, MP for Spelthorne (The constituency in which I reside)

Summary of communication

Proposal to include the teaching of Economics, Politics, and Personal Finance (also referred to here as “EPP”) in Primary and Secondary school curriculums. Having a basic understanding of these three subjects could significantly improve the lives of young people, however, it is not taught in schools and the majority of parents do not have the skills to teach their children themselves. This needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency. I am contacting members of parliament to share a vision for the UK and to volunteer my skills, in order to help millions of Britons.

I would be grateful to meet with you to discuss:

  • The economic, political and personal finances problem young Britons are facing (below)
  • The future of economics, politics and personal finance education in the UK
  • Any current work underway that relates to this proposal
  • The way we can deliver meaningful help and change to young lives 
  • How we can work together on related initiatives

17 November 2022

Dear Members of Parliament

I am writing to you as a proud British citizen, husband and parent with a proposal to include the teaching of Economics; Politics; and Personal Finance (also referred to here as “EPP”) in Primary and Secondary school curriculums.

Key problem statement:

Since 2020, when the impact of the Coronavirus Pandemic began, Britons have faced unprecedented economic, political and financial challenges. 

Whilst the direct impact of these challenges is felt by the current working age population, there is a concerning tail impact that will likely be faced by younger generations who are being raised at a time that is unstable, unprosperous and limited in hope. We also need to equip younger generations to deal with future challenges.

There is a risk that school-aged children have already suffered learning losses that may impact their future education and careers. This will only be worsened by the current climate, disproportionately impacting the poorest citizens. Education is a key enabler for giving people the knowledge to make better personal decisions for their own (and their families) advancement. 

However, there is not currently a clear strategy to provide school-aged people with the guidance and support they need to help them to plan for the economic future, make the critical decisions they need to make about their voting choices and to manage their personal finances themselves in the best way possible to enable them to achieve their financial goals (and to understand the consequences of their decisions).

Explanation:

Notwithstanding any direct impacts following the Pandemic, which could be felt for generations, today’s Britons are growing up in an increasingly difficult environment where:

The UK economy has suffered monumental failings since 2020

According to the House of Commons Library report on the Coronavirus: Economic impact (Published Friday, 17 December, 2021), “The magnitude of the recession caused by the pandemic is unprecedented in modern times. GDP declined by 9.7% in 2020, the steepest drop since consistent records began in 1948 and equal to the decline in 1921 on unofficial estimates.” As we near the end of 2022, the economic reality for the UK remains dire. High inflation, high energy costs and questionable economic decisions by previous Chancellors has left many of us British people desperate for hope, financially worse-off and concerned for the future. We are now also facing a long recession, which inevitably brings negative impacts on employment and, as such, job prospects for young people.

Economic issues of the past have been compounded by political instability

Arguably the biggest theme in politics since 2020 has been the decline of trust in government officials. We have seen politicians breaching coronavirus protocols (including hosting parties and having affairs), the potential mis-allocation of Covid relief funds, and ending in the laughably-short terms served by former, senior politicians. 

People are struggling and unaware of how to manage their personal finances

The topic of personal finance is not taught in school and adults have little personal finance support, yet people are expected to manage their finances in a responsible manner that lets them progress in life. This is, at best, highly optimistic and, at worst, unrealistic and setting people up to fail. When reflecting on the presence of rampant inflation in our economy, we have to recognise that people do not necessarily have the tools to do better for themselves and many people have no financial resilience at all. As part of Talk Money Week (7-11 November), The Money & Pensions Service reported that “One in six UK adults have no savings” and “Overall, a quarter of UK adults have less than £100 put away.”

This is a tough environment for today’s young men and women to be growing up in. It is no surprise, therefore, that we see so many students unsure about what the future holds for them and the best way for them to navigate through this complex world. It is critical that we ask how the schooling system can be adapted to support students more than presently with relevant and timely knowledge that can directly be applied to real-life challenges. 

Examples of how the problem is currently being addressed

While there are attempts to address the problem and provide valuable help to people, these are done in an uncoordinated manner. For example:

  • The MoneySavingExpert and MumsNet blogs 
  • A rise in Social Media activity characterised by the growth in personal finance TikTok channels 
  • Twitter is a key discussion hub for political opinion
  • Instagram transcends all key discussions about economics, politics and money
  • YouTube is a vast and useful, but completely unfiltered education source

Whilst these current solutions are useful for many reasons, they are not delivered reliably and universally to all, with any regulation to ensure accuracy or in a consistent manner. There is still a need to intervene earlier and provide clear practical support to Britons generally and, in particular, younger citizens who are inheriting the dire situation we currently find ourselves in.  

How the government can help

Government should have an obligation to help young British children to overcome the various challenges they will inherit. The goal should be to acknowledge the limitations of current school curriculums and the need for the introduction of relevant life advice. This will build on what is currently taught. 

The focus of EPP lessons should be to teach children the fundamentals of economics, politics and personal finance to provide them with a solid understanding that will help them to make informed decisions throughout their lives.  Lessons can easily be grounded in current history as a recent point when tensions in economics, politics and personal finance coincided. The intention is to empower the younger generation to both understand their past, have a better understanding of what the future may bring and to learn some core tools to help them to look after themselves. 

Lessons should start in primary school, however, the focus could be for students from Years 9 – 11, the critical years in which children form a deeper understanding of the adult world, become more independent and start to make decisions that affect their futures.

Who I am and what I do

I am a proud citizen, husband and father who is concerned by what appears to be a frightening education and awareness problem that is compounding daily. I was raised by a single parent, educated in a state-schools, and luckily found my way to success in banking and finance. Growing up, issues of money, economics and politics were completely absent from school curriculums. I relied on the lessons from my mother to give me some basic mental models, before developing my knowledge in the workplace and extensive reading (mostly American authors). I am blessed by having been able to reach a high level in my career. I often reflect back on my journey and that I did not have much guidance or support to understand money, economics or politics. After more than 20 years, the same issues I experienced at school still exist. 

To make a proactive step towards a dream of personal finance education for everyone, I have created the Avoiding Broke social media presence (YouTube, TikTok, Podcast etc) to create content in my spare time. We have a few thousand dedicated supporters across platforms, but the future of the UK requires more substantial, coordinated effort for a problem of this magnitude. There is a very strong case for government intervention supported by private individuals.

How I would like to work with you

I am contacting members of parliament to volunteer my skills and expertise. I would be grateful to meet with you to discuss:

  • The economic, political and personal finances problem young Britons are facing (set out above)
  • The future of economics, politics and personal finance education in the UK
  • Any current work underway that relates to this proposal
  • The way we can deliver meaningful help and change to young lives 
  • How we can work together on related initiatives

Thank you for considering this letter; I hope to hear from you in due course. 

Kind regards, 

Mr Jamain Graveney

Founder – Avoiding Broke

LinkedIn – https://uk.linkedin.com/in/jamain

Jamain Graveney ‘Dear MP’ letter

Jamain

I am a banker in the City of London. My day-job involves designing products customers love. I am passionate about helping to create opportunities to help people earn, keep and grow their money.

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