National Numeracy

Helping National Numeracy understand the cost of poor adult numeracy to the UK


National Numeracy helps adults and children across the UK to improve their numeracy. They thought that estimates of the cost to society of poor adult numeracy were outdated and considerably underplayed the economic impact of the issue.


PBE matched National Numeracy with experienced economists from the National Audit Office (NAO) and the Department for Education (DfE), and a social researcher. PBE provided expert oversight and helped the charity launch a public campaign for better outcomes.


Cost to UK of low adult numeracy: £20.2 billion per year (1.3 per cent of GDP). National Numeracy’s campaign highlighted these facts, using evidence from the PBE study to show the damaging impact of poor adult numeracy on the UK economy.


Outcomes associated with low levels of adult numeracy include lower earnings whilst in work, loss in productivity for employers, as well as an increase in demand for jobseekers allowance. National Numeracy’s campaign sought to highlight these negative outcomes with evidence from the PBE study.

Charity view

Wendy Jones (National Numeracy):

“We needed to persuade people with poor numeracy that they could improve their skills. To really get going we needed a strong campaign but we didn’t have hard facts. With less than four months to launch, the PBE team quickly got to work to build a robust case.

Everyone is now using the £20 billion figure, including our funders and partners. It helps us to tell our story in a compelling way.”

Volunteer view

Michael Kell (NAO):

“Working with PBE had a really positive impact on the team here. They had an opportunity to step up and lead on a really interesting project and develop new skills.”

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