Advice to boost numeracy to ensure value for money on groceries

This story was published 8 March 2023

Shoppers in North Yorkshire are being advised on how to make sure they are getting value for money and increasing their numeracy skills to help them cope with the cost-of-living crisis.

Two people holding carrots

Trading standards officers will share tips with consumers at Northallerton Market on Wednesday next week (15 March) on how to calculate and compare unit prices and weights/capacities of different food products to ensure they get the best value for money when shopping.

Unit pricing is a labelling system that helps shoppers to compare prices of groceries as shops must display the cost of different products by weight or volume. It can help to compare the costs of different products, regardless of their respective sizes. Sometimes larger pack sizes are not always the best value and there is potential for consumers to be confused, and even misled, by the variable sizes available on the shelves. 

Executive member for open to business, Cllr Derek Bastiman, said: “Office for National Statistics research published in January 2023 showed that 93 per cent of the population reported their cost of living had increased over the last year. Of those, 95 per cent said that the reason for that was the cost of food compared with 77 per cent citing energy costs and 48 per cent mentioning fuel prices.

“We know the increased cost of living has hit the pound in people’s pockets. That’s why we are keen for shoppers to know how grocery unit pricing works, enabling them to compare prices and make choices that are right for them and their budgets. Comparing unit prices can help you save money.

“The county’s trading standards officers will have a display at Northallerton market and will offer shoppers the chance to take part in a quiz to identify the best value products from the selection available on the stall. One lucky visitor to the stall will win a hamper of grocery essentials.”

In another initiative to boost residents’ maths skills in everyday life, adults who want to progress into better paid jobs but lack the necessary maths qualifications can sign up to free numeracy courses and activities.

We have been awarded £2.7 million from the Government’s £2.6 billion UK Shared Prosperity Fund, to offer tailored courses that meet the needs of the local community as part of the rollout of the Government’s flagship Multiply programme.

Multiply offers adults free, flexible courses for those who do not already have a GCSE grade C in maths, or the modern equivalent of a grade four or higher.

Sessions are available to residents on either a part-time or intensive basis and will be offered in flexible times and settings, such as online and in teaching venues across North Yorkshire.

The free courses and initiatives include innovative ways to incorporate maths through practical sessions such as slow cooker cooking classes to prepare meals on a budget while cutting back on gas and electricity costs.

Executive member for education, learning and skills, Cllr Annabel Wilkinson, said: “Essential numeracy skills play an important role in helping people with everyday tasks such as budgeting, as well as for progressing in learning or work.

“Many people are not confident about their numeracy skills and we would encourage anyone who feels they could improve to find out more about our Multiply programme. There are lots of free, easy to access courses available online and in person, including part-time and evening, so you can learn at a pace that suits you.”

North Yorkshire residents can also sign-up for online courses on supporting your child through Year 6 maths or find out how to sign up to the next GCSE maths course.

Local employers will also benefit from the scheme, with courses and activities tailored to a particular area or jobs at no cost to them offered to their staff to help boost their numeracy skills.

Dates and times of some of the sessions across North Yorkshire this month are:

Information sessions with learner engagement officers:

  • Leyburn library, Friday, 10 March, 10am until midday
  • Knaresborough library, Monday, 13 March, 2pm until 4.30pm
  • Richmond library, Wednesday, 15 March, 10am until midday
  • Harrogate library, Thursday, 16 March, 2pm until 5pm

Find out how you can make the cheapest (but still tasty) spaghetti bolognaise for a family of four by taking part in the Spag Bol challenge! The sessions will be held on:

  • Bentham Co-op, Friday, 10 March, 2pm until 6pm
  • Ingleton Co-op, Friday, 17 March, 2pm until 6pm
  • Skipton Morrisons, Saturday, 25 March, 10am until 4pm

Other events where Multiply will be exhibiting are:

  • DWP Jobs Fair, Sherburn in Elmet, Thursday, 9 March
  • Yorkshire Motorhome and Caravan Show, Harrogate Showground, Saturday, 18 March
  • Technical and Engineering Event Fair, The Milton Rooms, Malton, Friday, 17 March 17, 5pm until 7pm
  • Northallerton Jobs Fair, Town Hall, Wednesday, 22 March
  • York Jobs Fair, Railway Institute, Wednesday, 22 March
  • Living North Event, York Racecourse, 24 to 26 March

Find more information on the sessions including how to sign up or by emailing