£1.45 billion lost last year due to a lack of basic skills

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Brits are losing a fortune as they struggle to check bills, calculate tips or figure out the best deals for mobile phone tariffs, a recent report reveals.

learndirect, which provides numeracy and literacy skills training and qualifications, recently launched the ME-Q Index, which shows how much money Brits are losing year on year due to inadequate maths and english, comparing towns and cities across the UK. The amount of money lost last year overall (£1.45 billion) is a significant increase on the previous year’s report.

The ME-Q Index, the maths and English quotient, looked at basic skills across 20 towns and cities in the UK. Of those surveyed, Stoke on Trent was the town where people lost the most (£88 per head - more than two and a half times the national average) while on a regional level greater London fared worst (£74), and Leeds was the city to lose least (£11). Almost 100,000 people admitted to losing more than a £1,000 last year due to basic skills issues like bill miscalculations; adding or taking away VAT or the multiplication/division involved in working out foreign currency when abroad.

However, while billions are being lost due to poor basic skills, Brits seem to find it hard to admit to problems with maths and English and almost a fifth won’t use their spare time to brush up (17%). They are far more likely to spend a day watching TV than refreshing their skills.

In response to the findings, learndirect is urging the seven million people across the UK who have a basic skills need, to make a change.

Sally Coady, learndirect spokesperson said: "This research demonstrates the effects of the Skills Gap in the UK very clearly with the huge financial cost. A lack of maths and English skills can really hit you in the pocket but there is also a cost to people’s confidence. Some people will go to great lengths to avoid using their maths and English and it can hold them back in many areas from advancing their careers or helping their kids with homework. We are urging people to spend a few hours a week on improving their skills."

Coleen Nolan, who is supporting learndirect in this campaign, said: "No matter what your job is you can always benefit from boosting your maths and English skills. I have been held back by my maths and I dread to think how much money I have lost out on due to not calculating foreign exchange or tips correctly. Even more important for me is that my lack of confidence stops me from helping my kids with homework. I think we should all do something to sort it out."

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