Why financial education is a sustainability issue

29 November, 2019Juno Baker

Financial education isn’t the first thing to spring to mind when you think of green issues or sustainability. But tackling financial exclusion is a vital part of making our world more sustainable. We believe a key element of that is education.

That was validated by the Green Gown Awards this week, when they recognised our financial education programme, LiFE, as a winner in their Money for Good category.

Laptop and plantImagine living without a bank account, not having enough savings to survive a month, or not having contents insurance to cover your losses after a burglary.  

For many people in Britain today that is the reality. 

Nearly two million adults in the UK do not have a bank account and 50% of households in the bottom half the of the income distribution don't have home contents insurance.

13 million people do not have enough savings to support them for a month if they experience a 25% cut in income and up to 8.8 million people are over-indebted. Is it any wonder that 15 million people in the UK report one or more signs of financial distress?

Helping people to improve their financial situation should be a top priority.

Lessons in Financial Education

Our LiFE programme offers 'Lessons in Financial Education' and helps to tackle financial exclusion. 

It’s an online study programme using animation, games and music to make learning about finance fun and accessible. It’s used in schools – particularly where they don’t have room on the timetable and for students who don’t respond well in a formal classroom setting. It’s also used by charities who work with vulnerable adults.

Working with partners

As we’ve evolved LiFE, we’ve worked with other charities to expand the programme and develop it further. We were particularly lucky to work with the Special Needs Advisory and Activities Project (SNAAP), who shared their resources and expertise to help us make LiFE fully accessible.

Stephanie Swan, SNAAP Chair of Trustees explained what motivated them to help us. Quite simply, “those outside of mainstream education are particularly at risk of financial exclusion.” 

Which brings us back to why and how financial education relates to sustainability.

Sustainable development goals

In 2015, all member states of the United Nations committed to 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs).

These were agreed by the UN General Assembly as a "blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all". LiFE supports several of these goals.

Empowering sustainability

Teaching people about the dangers of bad debt enables them to avoid it.

But – as one of our partners, Porchlight, told us – financial education goes beyond managing money. It’s about empowerment – getting people to think ‘yes, I can’. 

“Yes, they can control their finances. Yes, they can complete a course and gain qualifications. Yes, they can get sustained and life changing employment,” said Porchlight. “Having a chance to start that process is key.”

The Green Gown Awards

Winning an award for our LiFE programme not only provides recognition for the team who are working on this project, but also adds to the momentum for developing this work further.

Catherine Winter, Director of Financial Capability said, “I am absolutely delighted that our LiFE programme has been recognised for the positive impact that it has had on so many young people’s lives.

"So many people in the organisation, and other charities, have contributed to its success. It’s a fantastic achievement for everyone involved.”

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