Millions of people in England are struggling to understand their pay-slips or calculate money in shops according to campaign group National Numeracy.
Paula Rodriguez told the Today programme's Sarah Montague that in school she "just didn't get" maths.
After having three children, she found she could not help them with their maths homework and decided to return to study a maths GCSE.
Paula said that not having maths held her back with simple things like going shopping and not knowing if she had been short changed.
Maths teacher and stand-up comedian Matt Parker told the programme that Paula's story was very important.
"Maths is a very easy subject to become very boring, alarmingly quickly," in school he said.
Conservative MP Graham Stuart, chair of the Education Select Committee, said that having good levels of numeracy in the population was "existentially important" to the economy.
Despite investing more money in education, the UK has been falling consistently behind for the last eight years, he said.
"It's about the quality of teaching" he went on to say, "and we have to see maths as a major national priority."
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