FEWER than half of children in the south west can work out whether they have received the right amount of change, according to a study by Nationwide.

When asked a simple sum to work out how much change they would receive when they pay £100 for £64.23 worth of shopping, only 41 per cent of 2,000 youngsters in Year 8 and Year 9 – aged between 12 and 14 – could answer the question correctly*.

Only four of 10 adults in Swindon interviewed by the Adver yesterday were able to answer the same question, highlighting a growing concern about numeracy levels in the country.

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Professional darts player Dennis Smith, above, worked out the answer in his head within three seconds of being asked, and was shocked to hear how few people got the answer right.

He said: “That figure is quite surprising to be honest, especially when it come to money.

“In this climate, where every penny counts, it’s important that you can work out if you’ve been short changed.

“I’ve been a professional darts player for years and you just get used to counting quickly. I guess that’s why I am so quick.

“People just need to take their time and not rush into it. You can take as much time as you like to check your change is right.

“I think it’s a good thing that Nationwide are offering these programmes. It can only be a good thing.”

To combat the rise in poor numeracy levels, Nationwide is bringing in a series of programmes for young people and children to help them to deliver their financial and numerical learning.

Stephen Uden, head of citizenship at Nationwide, said: “We’re not talking about anything complex here, yet our research suggests that gaps developed in the crucial early years of understanding leave young people unequipped for everyday situations in later life, including how to make the most of their money.

“We have been doing financial education for years.

“When people think about maths they think about complex calculations rather than the kind of skills they can learn everyday.

“This isn’t a scheme about promoting Nationwide, we’re not going to be going into schools and asking them to open a bank account. This is about improving their numeracy skills.

“We want our customers to be able to choose the best mortgage for them and the best kind of accounts.”

Individuals, groups, and schools can freely access a number of resources available from Nationwide to develop their financial learning.

To access the resources, visit www.nationwideeducation.co.uk.

* The answer is £35.77