WESTMINSTER DIARY: Julian Knight MP pens his latest Solihull Observer column - The Solihull Observer

WESTMINSTER DIARY: Julian Knight MP pens his latest Solihull Observer column


This week, I joined Young Enterprise and dozens of young people to award the prizes for this year’s My Money Week competition.

This is an annual contest in which school pupils from across the nation take part in challenges related to financial skills and money.

As the Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Financial Education for Young People, I was very pleased to see so many people engaged with this hugely important topic.

Ever since I was elected I have tried to bring my experience in personal finance to my work as an MP. I have led a major Commons debate about combating fraud and formed a new APPG to investigate the alternative lending market.

I’ve seen first-hand how new technology is making the world of finance much more complicated than it was when I was growing up – and how easy it now is to fall into problem debt. Britain currently has an eye-watering £200 billion in unsecured consumer debt alone.

That’s why I’m leading a cross-party campaign to have financial education made a mandatory part of the national PSHE (Personal, social, health and economic) curriculum.

Making sure that schools provide a firm grounding in basic money skills would help to level the playing field for pupils who might not receive such lessons at home. This would be a major boost to social mobility.

It would also help to boost wellbeing and mental health. Falling into problem debt, or prey to a scam artist, can not only be financially ruinous but is also hugely distressing. This means more mental health cases and – a particular interest of mine – more people at risk of homelessness. All of that means more costs heaped onto our NHS.

Of course, it’s no good just heaping new legal obligations on hard-pressed teachers. That’s why my colleagues and I are also campaigning for the government to provide schools with the high-quality training and teaching materials they would need to teach financial education properly.

This is a small change that could make an enormous, positive difference to the lives of today’s young people, and I’m doing everything I can to make it happen.

Julian Knight MP


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