West Yorkshire - financial literacy for 16-25 year olds


West Yorkshire Trading Standards service, in partnership with Barclays bank, is helping young people to make better financial choices. The ‘Money Skills' course, uses specially-created characters and a board game. It is delivered by a team of five in a variety of settings including youth offending teams and prisons.

Key learnings for other councils

There is a real need for this type of work, particularly in the current economic climate. The project is preventative in the expectation that the knowledge gained will encourage young people to make sensible financial choices. The sessions are concentrated in super output areas (SOAs) where the need is greatest.

Many of the young people taking part are vulnerable and may fall victim to illegal lenders charging sky-high levels of interest. They particularly value learning about affordable credit options, such as credit unions, which many have not come across previously.

The character-based resources are fun and very interactive. They also provide an opportunity for young people to learn without having to discuss their own financial situations, which can make people uncomfortable.

Other success factors are that the project is directly delivered by an enthusiastic, skilful team and for free!

Working with a private company and in a target-driven environment has been a learning curve and the team has had to ensure it is delivering to different groups and spreading the delivery across the region. However, now the only problem is keeping up with demand.


West Yorkshire Trading Standards service has developed a financial literacy programme. It is delivering this to 16 to 25-year-olds throughout the north of England in partnership with Barclays bank. Through lively interactions based on specially-created characters, the programme aims to empower young people to make better financial choices and make them more capable and informed consumers.

It is initially being delivered as a pilot in the north of England and is currently funded until November 2010. To date, more than 15,000 young people have taken part.

Who was involved?

The project is a partnership between West Yorkshire Trading Standards and Barclays. Funding from Barclays has enabled 50 resource kits to be produced and a team of five to be appointed to deliver the project for two years.

The programme has been delivered to a large number of schools and colleges, as well as with a variety of statutory and voluntary organisations including:

  • housing associations
  • local community groups
  • charities.

In a targeted attempt to reach the most disadvantaged young people, the team has also worked with youth offending teams and prisons.

As well as delivering sessions personally, the team also trains staff from participating organisations. They can then ‘borrow' the resources to use with their own groups. Both options are free of charge.

The problem and how it was tackled

Research undertaken by the Personal Finance Education Group (Pfeg), shows that more than half of England's teenagers have been or are in debt by the time they are 17. Ninety per cent worry about money, but tend to think of overdrafts and credit cards as easy ways to spend more than they earn. Building financial capability supports economic wellbeing, encouraging young people to engage with money, build financial skills and stay informed about financial matters.

Personal Financial Education Group (Pfeg)

A Money Skills course consists of five units, taking approximately two hours to deliver. However, the programme has been designed to be adaptable and the team can deliver tailored sessions to meet participants' needs.

The aim is that participants not only acquire the knowledge to enable them to better manage their money, but also develop transferable ‘enterprise' skills, vital in the world of employment and therefore closely linked to the ‘skills for work' agenda.

The units are based on a series of characters and represent a selection of real-life scenarios the pupils can identify with. Characters include a school leaver, a single parent and a recent graduate.

As they progress through the units, the young people learn about their character's lifestyle and spending habits. They look at:

  • budgeting
  • bank statements
  • financial terminology
  • affordable credit
  • credit reports and credit scoring.

They also look at the dangers of identity theft, scams and getting into the clutches of a loan shark, as well as alternatives to bank loans such as credit unions.

The session culminates in a board game which tests the knowledge gained in the earlier units.

Outcomes and impact

The team has carried out evaluations on a sample of the young people who have taken part. Of 2,500 completed evaluations, 98 per cent said they feel very confident or confident in managing their money having completed the session. For 93 per cent this was an improvement in confidence.

‘Top tips' from the young people themselves show what they have learned:

“Don't give in to desires before essentials.”

“Keep an eye on your bank statement as they not only tell you how much money you have spent but in case you have been the victim of identity theft.”

“Always make sure that you can afford what you buy. If you can't, save up your money until you can. There is no point getting into debt that you can't pay back.”

“I thought it was really good. I don't usually like things like this but I learnt a lot! I didn't know anything about banking, loans, credit and or debit cards. This will definitely help me in the future.”

“Do you want to lose your arms and legs? No? Then don't use a loan shark.”

The programme has also been recognised nationally and was commended in the 2010 ‘Municipal Journal' Awards.

Next steps

West Yorkshire Joint Services is currently looking at further development of the Money Skills project. The team is adapting current stories to introduce ‘side characters' who can be relevant to different groups. For example, team members want to create a character who has just been released from prison to look at his or her money skills and money management needs. They are also developing extension activities for groups at different levels.


Lorna Richardson, Financial Inclusion Project Coordinator, Money Skills
West Yorkshire Joint Services
Telephone: 0113 3846 452
Email: lrichardson@wyjs.org.uk

8 October 2010

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