Less than half (47%) of children and teenagers aged seven to 17 have received a meaningful financial education, according to a Government-backed body.
The Money and Pensions Service (MaPS) estimates from its findings that around 5.4 million children across the UK do not have the money skills they will need in adulthood.
Children living in social housing, rural areas and in lower income households were found to be less likely to receive a meaningful financial education.
And children with parents or carers with mental health conditions tend to be less likely to receive a meaningful financial education than the UK average, the findings indicate.
The measure of meaningful financial education is based on the percentages of young people who recall receiving financial education at school that they consider useful, and/or receive regular money from parents or work, with parents setting rules about money and handling responsibility for some spending decisions.
Research was conducted for MaPS between late summer and autumn 2022 across the UK by Critical Research, among more than 4,700 children and young people aged seven to 17 and their parents or carers.
The proportion of children and teenagers found to have received a meaningful financial education is similar to 2019, when the figure was 48%.
The report said: “When interpreting these results, it is worth remembering the disruption to education and normal life caused by the Covid-19 pandemic
potentially limited opportunities for children to receive a meaningful financial education at school and/or home over the last three years.”
According to the latest findings, a third (33%) of children recall learning about money in school and finding it useful, and nearly a quarter (24%) have received key elements of financial education at home.
Only 10% reported having both, suggesting that children and young people tend to receive meaningful financial education either at home or at school and not as “joined-up” financial education, the report said.
According to the report, younger children aged seven to 11 are less likely to receive a meaningful financial education than older children aged 16 to 17.
Children in Scotland are the most likely (52%) to have received a meaningful financial education, the report indicated, followed by those in Wales (51%), England (46%) and Northern Ireland (43%).
Those in Wales (79%) are more likely than those living in the UK (71%)
as a whole to receive regular money from parents/carers or work, according to the research.
As part of its UK strategy for financial wellbeing, released in 2020, MaPS is aiming for two meaningful million more children aged five to 17 to receive a financial education by 2030.
It is urging parents to talk to their children about money and combine it with everyday experiences, such as food shopping, budgeting and wages from a part-time job.
To help with this, MaPS offers free resources such as “talk learn do”, an online tool that helps parents to start the conversation.
The MaPS, which is sponsored by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and funded by levies on the financial services industry and pension schemes, added that teachers, school leaders and governors should work together to deliver financial education in classrooms.
It is also calling on financial services and funders such as charitable trusts to increase their investment in the delivery of financial education.
Sarah Porretta, executive director at MaPS said: “These figures will alarm everyone in financial education because more than five million children could be going without.
“Our experiences in childhood prepare us for adulthood and learning about money is no different. It becomes a part of daily life and our financial decisions can bring real benefits and profound consequences, so it’s crucial to learn from a young age.
“The race is on to educate the nation’s children and everyone, from banks and building societies to foundations and financial institutions, has a big part to play.
“Parents and schools can also make a huge difference by combining money skills with everyday experiences, both inside and outside the classroom.”