An estimated nine million working-age adults in England have low basic skills in literacy or numeracy. The high level of basic skills needs is compounded by adult participation in English, maths and ESOL plummeting by 70, 69 and 27 per cent respectively since 2012. On current trends it would take 36 years for all adults with low literacy or numeracy to participate in learning. Only two in five adults are aware that adult literacy and numeracy courses are available free of charge.
The launch of the three-year, £560 million Multiply programme is an opportunity to address part of this adult numeracy challenge. To maximise the Government’s investment, it will be important that Multiply joins up effectively with other programmes, including the Adult Education Budget, and employment and skills support through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund. It will also be important to deliver the programme in ways which benefit learners with other essential skills needs, including ESOL, literacy and digital skills.