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Children and young people financial capability: Northern Ireland

Evidence type: Insight i


The Money and Pensions Service (MaPS) aims to help everyone make the most of their money and pensions. Previous research has shown that financial capability is largely defined by what is seen and experienced during childhood. MaPS aims to ensure all children and young people (CYP) are provided with a meaningful financial education, whether via school or experiences in the home. To gain insights into this area, the Money and Pensions Service initiated and commissioned the Children and Young People’s Financial Capability Survey to provide robust measures of the financial capability of children and young people across the UK.

The study:

This 2019 report from the Money and Pensions Service, and prepared by Critical Research, uses the CYP Financial Capability Survey to ask children about:

  • How they get, spend and save money;
  • Their attitude to spending, saving and debt;
  • Their financial confidence and understanding about money;
  • Any financial education they may have received.

The survey also collects data from parents, including:

  • Their own attitudes and behaviours with money;
  • Their attitudes and approaches towards parenting regarding money;
  • Their views on their child’s financial skills, attitudes, abilities and behaviours.

A total of 3,475 children and young people aged seven to 17, and their parents, were interviewed as part of the national survey. Questions asked in a previous edition of the survey (2016) were largely unchanged, though some extra questions were added. This summary presents headline findings from the national survey, before focusing on Northern Ireland.

Key findings:

  • Nationally, the research shows that the number of CYP aged 14-17 who often or always plan for things has fallen from 38% in 2016 to 29% in 2019. However, those who keep track of money using a tool has increased from 61% to 69% over the same period.
  • The 2019 survey found that almost all children (97%) receive money either as pocket money or from paid work, or more infrequently from special occasions. Of those aged eight and over who received money, almost half (47%) say they regularly save at least some of it, an increase of 5% points since 2016.
  • There was a drop in the number of CYP who had received financial education at home since 2016, with a statistically significant decrease from 52% to 48%, while only 38% recalled having financial education at school (down two percentage points since 2016).
  • The vast majority of parents felt it was important to help their children learn about money, but this has fallen slightly from 90% in 2016 to 87% in 2019.
  • Parents agree that they influence how their children will behave around money when they grow up (82% in 2019).
  • Better saving behaviours are observed among children whose parents discuss household finances with them (48% among those whose parents discuss it compared to 33% among those whose parents do not).
  • Half (51%) of children aged 7-11 had seen their parents make payments with their mobile phone or online, with children themselves increasingly paying for things online as they get older.

Northern Ireland:

  • Children in Northern Ireland are less actively involved in using financial products and services compared to children in the rest of the UK. They are less likely to manage their bank account themselves, including checking their balance and withdrawing money.
  • A lower proportion of children in Northern Ireland (58%) are aware they have a bank account compared to the UK average (63%).
  • Less than half (49%) of Northern Irish CYP check their balance themselves (compared to 55% across the UK).
  • Just over a third (37%) of Northern Irish CYP look after their bank details themselves, compared to a UK average of 51%.
  • Pocket money and other regular money is significantly less common than in England, and appears lower than in Scotland and Wales. Just over half (55%) of Northern Irish CYP receive pocket money, compared to a UK average of 65%.
  • Children in Northern Ireland save less frequently compared to those in the UK as a whole (31% compared to 37%).
  • Three-in-five (62%) children aged 14 to 17 have some sort of system to keep track of their money, the lowest of all the nations (69% UK).
  • The proportion of children in Northern Ireland who discuss money with parents and teachers is similar to the rest of the UK, with 38% of children recalling learning about managing money in school, compared to 39% across the UK.

Points to consider:

Methodological limitations :

  • This work provides analysis based on a representative sample, and the results should provide a reliable snapshot of financial capability among CYP in Northern Ireland.

Generalisability/ transferability :

  • This report is of significant interest to policymakers, stakeholders and other parties interested in designing interventions or influencing policy concerning financial capability among CYP, and particularly to those embedded in the Northern Irish regulatory environment.


  • These findings are based on participants in Northern Ireland and are not necessarily representative of the UK.

Key info

Year of publication
Northern Ireland
Contact information

James Hopkins, Ben Farr; Critical Research