Social Justice Minister Dr Brian Gibbons will say that it is vital that people are given the help and advice they need to help them manage their money, keep track of their finances and choose financial products that work for them to prevent themselves from getting into financial difficulty. The Minister will also highlight a number of areas in which the Assembly Government is helping people to become more financially aware. For example:-
- Since September 2008, financial literacy has been incorporated into the core curriculum in Welsh schools. Students from the ages of 7 can now learn how to manage their money - in both the maths and PSE curriculum.
- With the Financial Services Authority (FSA) the Welsh Assembly Government is also funding a Welsh Unit for Financial Education to identify good practice and advise teachers, schools and colleges on how best to deliver this new curriculum.
- The Assembly Government is providing £3 million from 2008-09 to increase Council Tax and Housing Benefit take-up, widening the focus to families with children, as well as pensioners.
- An extra £500,000 over the next two years to raise awareness of benefits for the families of disabled children.
- With Assembly Government support credit union membership in Wales has grown from approximately 10,000 at the end of 2000 to almost 43,000 by March 2008. The combined assets of Welsh credit unions now exceed £15million.
- An additional £1.25 million pounds has been made available in the three years from April 2008 to help deliver the Assembly Government’s One Wales commitments on continuing credit union development.
Dr Brian Gibbons said:
Helping people gain the skills and confidence to manage their money is particularly important in these difficult economic conditions. Better financial capability is an issue not only of economic prosperity but of social justice too.
We want to see all our citizens having access to affordable financial products and the confidence and capability to use them safely and responsibly. We want people to be able to plan for their futures with a reasonable degree of security. They need to have the right information and the skills to avoid getting into financial difficulties, as well as knowing where to find help should they need to.
I therefore very much welcome our partnership with the FSA in delivering financial capability in Wales. The FSA has taken significant strides forward, leading the agenda across the UK and we are now bringing this experience and expertise to Wales.
Our goal as a government is to bring about real change, providing opportunities for everyone to learn about money – at school; through further and higher education; in the workplace; and in the community.
Dr Gibbons added that long-term planning is critical in the attempt to combat the problems of over-indebtedness and financial exclusion. He said that the first Financial Inclusion Strategy for Wales, which will be subject to a full public consultation in the New Year, will focus on areas such as providing affordable credit and savings, access to mainstream financial services and improving access to financial and debt advice.
Chris Pond, FSA director of financial capability, said:
The FSA is committed to our partnership with the Welsh Assembly Government in delivering financial capability in Wales. There has never been greater need to tackle low levels of financial capability with FSA research showing many adults are not planning ahead, some are barely coping with their levels of debt and some are taking on financial risks without realising it.
The FSA led National Strategy for Financial Capability aims to find ways to improve the nation’s financial capability and understanding of personal finance. Improving people's ability to make financial decisions is in everybody's interests. If people know what they want and how to get it, the market for financial services becomes less one-sided and a lot more efficient.
We have brought together interested parties from industry, consumer bodies, voluntary organisations, and we welcome the involvement of the Welsh Assembly Government.
26 November 2008