Evaluation Scotland Wales

Vulnerable children and young people are more likely to need financial capability support

Children's services

Some children and young people are at greater risk of having poor financial capability, with long-term implications for their wellbeing as they gain independence. Local authorities and other service providers have an important role to play in supporting these children and young people to develop the money skills they need.

  • Disabled children or those with a longstanding illness tend to have poorer financial capability, yet there is limited financial education targeted to meeting their needs
  • Children demonstrating challenging behaviours and those with low social and emotional skills are at risk of having poor money skills
  • Only 40% of children and young people say they have had some financial education at school.

The experiences children and young people have growing up, and what they learn about money, have a significant effect on their chances of having good financial capability in later life. This means that work with children and young people today could help them, in the future, to make the most of their money, plan ahead and avoid getting into problem debt or experiencing financial exploitation.

How financial capability can support positive outcomes and wellbeing

Some children are more likely to have poor financial capability, such as children growing up in an over-indebted household and those who are disabled. Some children may require specific and targeted financial education, due to their circumstances. For example, children in care and care leavers or young carers may need to develop money skills earlier than their peers. While parents can be the main source of financial education for their children, not all young people will get the support they need at home. Similarly, children and young people disengaged from learning may not have the opportunity to gain money skills at school or college.

Therefore, those working with vulnerable children and young people and their families – including local authorities, youth services, family support and other community services – have an important role to play.

Activity to develop children and young people’s financial capability can be incorporated into the work you are already doing with children and young people. Support is most likely to be effective where there is a trusted relationship and frequent contact. So embedding financial education into your existing activities – such as work carried out by social workers, family support workers, parenting practitioners and youth workers – could make a positive difference.

Learn more about the Financial Capability Strategy for children and young people.

Actions local authorities can take

Local authorities and other service providers could:

  • Consider commissioning targeted financial education for looked after children and young carers, as part of your strategies for these groups of children and young people
  • Embed financial skills assessment and support into the care and education plans of looked after children and care leavers and in work to support them into independence
  • Where young carers are likely to take on financial responsibilities for their family, ensure they have opportunities to develop the skills they need early on and are well-supported
  • Run sessions with families to help them improve their financial capability together. Find out more about how parents can improve their children’s money skills
  • Work with schools in your area to ensure they have the information they need to secure high quality financial education for their students.

Financial education resources

Tips for successful financial education

  • Start early. Evidence shows that children’s attitudes about money are well developed by the age of seven
  • Put learning into practice. For example, support young people to open a bank account or practise managing a weekly or monthly budget
  • Make the most of everyday events. For example, a young person’s mobile phone contract coming to an end is an opportunity to support them to find out their options, assess value for money and think about their needs versus their wants
  • Involve parents and carers. Role models have a huge influence on their children’s financial capability, so, where possible, do get parents, foster carers, family and friends involved in your financial skills development activities.

Measure your success

Measure the results of your financial education so that you can improve and refine it, using our Evaluation Toolkit and outcomes frameworks for children and young people and parentsopens in new window.