Rishi Sunak unveils programme to improve adults' maths skills

Boost for learning as Rishi Sunak unveils numeracy programme to improve adults’ maths skills

  • Numeracy programme launched to improve maths skills of up to 500,000 adults
  • Chancellor Rishi Sunak will put £560million into new scheme named Multiply
  • Scheme will include flexible courses and online platform to fit around busy lives
  • Treasury expects the programme to particularly benefit the North East, West Midlands and Yorkshire and the Humber

A numeracy programme will be launched to improve poor maths skills among up to half a million adults.

Rishi Sunak told MPs he would put £560million into the scheme, called Multiply, to ‘change people’s lives across the whole United Kingdom’. The cash is for a three-year period.

Ministers hope that by increasing adults’ confidence with numbers it will improve their employment chances and earnings.

It will include flexible courses and an online platform designed to allow the learning to fit around busy lives.

The Chancellor said: ‘Millions of adults in England have numeracy skills lower than those expected of a nine-year-old.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak leaving 11 Downing Street, London before delivering his Budget to the House of Commons on Wednesday

The Chancellor has announced a new scheme named Multiply that will improve basic maths skills of up to half a million adults

‘According to the leading charity National Numeracy this costs individuals with poor numeracy up to £1,600 a year in lost earnings. 

‘People with poor numeracy skills are more than twice as likely to be unemployed as their peers. 

‘With £560million, Multiply will improve basic maths skills and help to change people’s lives across the whole United Kingdom.’

The programme, which starts next April, will equip ‘hundreds of thousands more adults with functional numeracy skills’, the Budget Red Book said. 

In England, the Treasury expects the scheme to particularly benefit the North East, West Midlands and Yorkshire and the Humber, which have the highest rates of poor numeracy.

Mr Sunak poses alongside Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a visit to a brewery in Bermondsey after delivering his budget

Sam Sims, chief executive of National Numeracy, welcomed the scheme. ‘It provides recognition of the role that basic numeracy plays in opening up opportunities for individuals, and the benefits numeracy can bring to the economy and society as a whole,’ he said.

‘Crucially, the focus on innovative and flexible approaches that help build confidence, as well as skills, could make this a game-changer for those adults typically not yet ready to access existing courses.

‘We look forward to working with Government to ensure Multiply has a big impact and a lasting legacy.

‘Over the past decade, we’ve learnt that for those with low numeracy, building confidence goes hand in hand with building skills, and that emphasising the real-world value of numeracy is key.’

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