CHANCELLOR Philip Hammond shone a light on the need to improve the financial knowledge of school pupils as part of his Budget, promising a range of measures designed to get more people teaching and studying maths.

The numbers teaching the subject continue to fall, with unfilled places on maths teacher training courses in Scotland now sitting at 53 per cent.

The Chancellor’s boost, which only applies south of the Border, came after the UK Government recently declared that improving maths is the best way to boost financial inclusion and capability.

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Despite this, Old Mutual Wealth responsible business director Jane Goodland said teaching maths will not close the financial literacy gap.

“Politicians are at risk of slipping into the mistaken belief that being competent with numbers equates to being good with money,” she said.

“While basic numeracy skills are helpful for budgeting and saving, many of our financial habits are in fact motivated by our attitudes and behaviours learned at a young age, and not by our technical competence with numbers.”

A recent study from City regulator the Financial Conduct Authority found not only that financial illiteracy is widespread but that it largely unconnected to educational background too.

“In fact, evidence suggests that if young people can grasp the basic principles of healthy financial wellbeing, like budgeting, saving for the future and avoiding debt, they are more likely to be financially savvy,” the study said.

Justin Urquhart Stewart, co-founder and head of corporate development at Seven Investment Management (7IM), said: “Given the depressed UK growth projections, it’s hard not to see the Budget’s maths focus through the prism of gosh, we’re going to need some decent mathematicians.

“It’s a sensible approach, but it would be even better if it could be joined up with decent personal finance education.

“Research from the Money Advice Service earlier this year suggested that only 40 per cent of children aged seven to 17 say they have learned about managing money at school or college, and this is consistent across all age groups.

“This is shameful.”

Mr Urquhart-Stewart said a 7IM survey this year found that only six per cent of Scots believe they are saving enough for retirement.

“There is a huge need for financial education – and the Scots seem more aware of this need than many in the rest of the UK,” he said.

“Scotland had a reputation for being both canny and clever – financial education is key to maintaining that title.”

Some 20 financial services firms, including several in Scotland, are currently funding KickStart Money, a project aiming to deliver financial education to 18,000 seven to 11 year olds over three years, to support the case for financial education to be included as part of the curriculum at all primary schools. It will appear in Scotland early next year.

It is one of the projects being funded by the Money Advice Service through a £10m What Works Fund, which is testing 65 projects across the UK for their effectiveness. Among other participants are Young Scot, Age Scotland, Shelter Scotland and Fife, Falkirk and West Lothian councils.

Ms Goodland said: “We urge the Government to look at the evidence made available through the What Works Fund and make financial education part of the primary national curriculum, giving every young person the foundation financial knowledge needed, in addition to numeracy skills, in order to make well-informed financial decisions in adulthood.”

She added: “The UK currently faces some acute challenges when it comes to personal financial wellbeing, with many people struggling with over-indebtedness and under-saving. Research shows many financial attitudes and behaviours are shaped at as young as seven years old.”

According to the Scottish Government financial education “is a core part of the Curriculum for Excellence and Education Scotland offers a range of activities and teaching resources to support it".

"This is reinforced through local partnerships between schools and the financial sector," a spokesman said. "We have invested £1.3 million over four years in the National Numeracy and Mathematics Hub and are supporting credit unions with more than £270,000 to run junior savers schemes across the country."

Whether that will go far enough remains to be seen, but for Mr Urquhart-Stewart the focus should not just be on children.

“Given how poor we’ve been at teaching financial numeracy for so long, we need more adult education too,” he said.