THE maths skills of New Year sales shoppers are being put to the test in York.

As the winter sales get under way today, shoppers in York may find they get less than they bargained for, due to poor maths skills.

According to Government figures 14.9 million adults in England do not have the numeracy level expected of an 11-year-old and may struggle to work out even basic deals like "20 per cent off" or "buy one, get the second half-price."

To help beat these bargain blues, adult skills Get On' campaign teams were braving the crowds today in some of the most popular shopping districts in the city.

The campaign, run by the Department for Education and Skills (DFES), has commissioned 200,000 sales calculators offering tips on savings and deals.

Alongside a handy percentage calculator, shoppers are being encouraged to test themselves on common discount questions to see if they could do with brushing up their numeracy skills.

Skills Minister Phil Hope, said: "We all use numbers every day, but millions struggle to do the kind of basic sums which are so essential to our lives at work and at home.

"After trying to work out that "60 per cent off" discount or multi-purchase deals, people may well be thinking about improving their skills in the New Year, and that's why the Get On campaign is out on the streets today. Everyone enjoys the hunt for a bargain, but people in Sheffield and York might not realise that they can brush up their maths or reading and writing - locally, and for free!

"As well as picking out that shirt or pair of shoes, make sure you get one of our sales calculators and call the Get On campaign hotline on 0800 100 900."

Anyone who wants to find out where their nearest free courses are held should phone the free helpline on 0800 100 900 and find out how they can go about improving their skills.

It is claimed that basic literacy and numeracy are essential for life, work and progression to further learning. An individual with good basic skills could earn an additional £50,000 over the course of their lifetime.