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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 November 2005, 06:46 GMT
Call for compulsory money lessons
Cash could be on the curriculum if the consumer council has its way
Teaching schoolchildren how to manage money should be compulsory in schools in Wales, claims a consumer body.

The Welsh Consumer Council wants to see lessons like maths and information technology (IT) used to show how a household budget must be balanced.

It claims up to a quarter of adults in Wales feel scared or confused when dealing with financial institutions.

The Welsh Assembly Government said teaching financial awareness was part of the basic curriculum in Wales.

The consumer council report claims a significant proportion of adults lack adequate understanding of financial issues, with a fifth admitting they had committed to a financial product without understanding all the terms and conditions.

A survey found 14% of adults in Wales did not have a current or basic bank account, compared with 11% across the UK.

It also discovered that fewer than half are putting money into a savings account on a regular basis.

These days you are inundated with offers through the post. It's far too easy to get credit
Credit union manager, Barry Roberts

Vivienne Sugar, the council's chair, said: "Almost nine out of 10 people rely on informal information sources to learn about money issues.

"However, more than eight out of 10 would feel more confident if they had learnt how to manage money at school."

Report author Lindsey Kearton said everyday situations such as running a mobile phone could be used to show young people the value of understanding finance.

'Using credit

"A lot of young people have mobile phones. In the future, they are going to have to take the responsibility for paying that bill.

"By building financial awareness into the curriculum, using existing subject areas, it creates an opportunity to bring in money-related issues, like careers, their first pay packet and looking at all your outgoings.

"Young people are more accepting of the fact they are using credit. While that is not a bad thing in itself, unless you keep some kind of control, that can lead to dangerous situation where you are building up a large amount of debt."

Barry Roberts, a manager at Llandudno and District Credit Union, said many of its 2,000 members would feel intimidated by financial institutions.

He said: "These days you are inundated with offers through the post. It's far too easy to get credit.

'Saving first'

"The place to start is the school curriculum. There has to be some sort of financial education, and trying to get over the philosophy of saving first and paying for something later."

The assembly government said financial awareness was part of pupils' personal social education (PSE) programme at school.

A spokesman said: "One aspect of PSE includes specific learning outcomes on financial awareness for pupils of all ages - for example, key stage 4 pupils should understand a range of economic and industrial issues related to their role as consumers and future providers and their responsibilities in personal finance."

He said the assembly government was also looking at how it might develop this area further.

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