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Children and young people financial capability: Scotland

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 Scotland.

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.


  • Children in Scotland are more involved in managing their finances than in the rest of the UK, including managing their bank account, and also have more responsibility in deciding for themselves about how they are going to spend and save money. They are also more likely to remember learning about money at school.
  • Over half (55%) of Scottish CYP who have a bank account make deposits themselves (compared to 48% in the UK).
  • Children in Scotland are slightly less likely to report receiving pocket money than the rest of the UK (63% compared to 65% UK).
  • Children in Scotland save less frequently than those in the rest of the UK (29% compared to 37%).
  • Generally, children in Scotland tend to have more responsibility for their finances. They are slightly more involved in deciding how to save and spend their money, though they do not necessarily shop around to compare prices.
  • Children in Scotland are more likely to remember learning about managing money at school (45% in Scotland compared to 38% in the UK).
  • Fewer children in Scotland are receiving pocket money in 2019 (63%, compared to 69% in Scotland in 2016).
  • More than seven-in-ten Scottish children (71%) have a bank account, compared to 69% in 2016.

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 amongst CYP in Scotland.

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 Scottish regulatory environment.


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

Key info

Year of publication
Contact information

James Hopkins, Ben Farr; Critical Research