Good morning ladies and gentlemen.

Thank you to everyone at CAB for inviting me to attend today’s launch.

Of course, I am delighted to launch the Money Talks toolkit, which covers a wide range of topics important to young people learning to manage their finances.

Although I think that after seeing the board game I’d have to commend every young person and adult to remember the advice on Square 97 – save regularly!

Many adults would have been delighted to have this type of pack, game and advice to guide them through the maze of managing money.

Therefore, it can be seen now as even more important to be teaching children and young people how to manage finances.

As the staff and volunteers of the Citizen’s Advice Bureau know all too well, the cost of not managing finances can wreck lives and families.

Recently I gave evidence to a powerful Assembly committee about the impact of child poverty. Much of that poverty doesn’t just come from not being able to manage finances, but often from the horrible impact when coping with the aftermath.

Child Poverty

Tackling the issues around child poverty and social exclusion is a significant priority for NICCY, particularly in terms of how it affects children and young people with disabilities, those in lone parent families and those from ethnic minority groups.

Poverty impacts on children and young people throughout their lifetime by adversely affecting their educational and employment opportunities, social life and self esteem.

Many children and young people living in Northern Ireland experience high levels of poverty and deprivation; more so than in any other part of the United Kingdom.

It has been estimated that 8% of children are living in severe poverty in Northern Ireland. While statistics are all very well for quantifying relative poverty, I find that a more meaningful way of putting poverty in context is to look at the life experiences behind the numbers - for it’s here that you begin to get a glimpse of what living in poverty actually means to those children who are caught in the poverty trap.

These children who grow up in poverty are more likely to be in poor health, to have learning and behavioral difficulties, to underachieve at school, to become pregnant at too early an age, to have lower skills and aspirations, to be low paid, unemployed, and welfare dependent. These are the children who need our help; these are the children we need to target and support in so many different ways.

Targets have been set to halve child poverty across the UK by 2010 and eradicate it by 2020. However, the lack of policy initiatives and resources in Northern Ireland with regards to tackling child poverty means for me that these targets will not be met.

Having Your Say

While Government initiatives may fail to help end child poverty, I believe the Money Talks information CAB and its partners have produced is a powerful tool for individual children and young people.

I say this because it is at the core of everything we do that children and young people have a say in decisions that affect their lives. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child makes Government commit to the right of children to have a say.

What this pack will do is help young people have a say when it comes to financial decisions. By explaining choice and underlining the importance of managing finances young people will be empowered to have a say when the forces and pressures of modern living tug at them to have a slice of their pocket money or the first pay packet.

Conclusion

CAB and their partners have produced a wonderful tool, which I hope will be used in the classroom and beyond. It will support pupils in their GCSE courses, but I believe that it will have an impact much more than another piece of homework.

Just last week the influential Charles Scwab Financial Services Group published a survey of parents. Almost 60% of parents of teenagers said they wished they had learned more about managing money.

The same amount of parents said their teenagers were ‘quick spenders’. As a parent of a teenager I know exactly what they mean!

The challenge to us all is to acknowledge that they can become quick savers as well as quick spenders!

I’d like to leave you with a final thought about money. The famous American newspaper editor George Horace Lorimer said:

It's good to have money and the things that money can buy, but it's good, too, to make sure you haven't lost the things that money can't buy.

Congratulations to all those involved in this project. And now I’m going to take the advice of Space 75 in the Money Talks board game and plan my budget for next month!

Thank you again.