OFF THE FENCE: Fareham MP Suella Fernandes on why youngsters should receive structured lessons on personal finance

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I believe passionately in ensuring that every young person in Fareham has the opportunity to get on in life – this means giving young people the tools to manage their money well.

We can all agree that young people today face an increasingly challenging world, with far greater opportunities to spend money and a wider range of financial decisions to make than previous generations.

Many of the changes in the way money is handled – from the rise of contactless payments to the growth of in-app purchases – have occurred in the past few years alone.

There has been a shift towards an increasingly cashless society, with more financial products and services than ever before, making it more complex for young people to navigate their personal finances – often without the necessary level of financial literacy.

Up to 70 per cent of pupils in Fareham still leave formal education without having ever received a structured lesson on personal finance. As a result, many young adults go on to be over-indebted and don’t save to cover unexpected bills – leaving them vulnerable.

Financial education – as a planned programme of study that aims to equip young people with the knowledge, skills, and confidence to manage their money well – can play an integral part in preparing young people for the financial challenges of later life.

During my first 18 months in parliament I have campaigned for greater provision of financial education in Fareham’s schools and nationwide. As Chair of the All-Party-Parliamentary Group on Financial Education for Young People, I work alongside MPs of all parties to get the government to do more in terms of financial education provision.

I chaired a six-month inquiry and led an investigation, supported by the charity Young Enterprise, into the government’s approach to financial education. I then launched a report by MPs, with Martin Lewis of MoneySavingExpert.com, which found that despite financial education being included on the National Curriculum, there remain weaknesses in how well it is taught, with improvements and greater awareness amongst teachers needed. Our report recommended to the government that despite progress so far, more needs to be done to better equip our young people for the financial challenges of later life.

I have visited many of Fareham’s schools, meeting with teachers and pupils, and I care strongly about enabling all young people in Fareham to fulfil their aspirations. Financial education – and the security, stability and prosperity that it brings in later life – is vital to this.