Progress report into extra costs finds improvements for disabled consumers

A new report out in October 2016 reveals how businesses, government, regulators and charities are responding to and better serving disabled consumers.

The reports is from the Extra Costs Commission, which was launched in response to research by disability charity Scope, which reveals that disabled people pay a financial penalty on everyday living costs – on average £550 per month. This compares with average extra costs payments (Disability Living Allowance and its successor Personal Independence Payment) for disabled people of around £360 per month.

The Commission made 16 recommendations in June 2015, and this report shows how the work towards delivering those recommendations has advanced.

As part of these recommendations, Family Fund and Family Fund Trading are exploring how to build a partnership with a disability organisation to extend negotiated rates on essential products to disabled people, such as specialised equipment

The Extra Costs Commission found that markets and businesses were not often aware of disabled consumers or the extra costs they face. In response the inquiry called for disabled consumers to be ‘bold and loud’.

Today’s progress report shows how well-known brands have risen to the challenge:

  • After being contacted by a customer about offering products suitable for her disabled grandson, Marks & Spencer extended the age range of some of its bodysuits and sleepsuits, and adapted them to make them suitable for disabled children with impairments that require them to wear sleepsuits and bodysuits in a larger size to the baby and child sizes it usually sells. This increased choice and reduced prices.
  • Uber invested in 100 wheelchair accessible vehicles. They also worked to ensure that disabled people have access to the same rates as every other passenger.

Disabled people and their families have a combined spending power – known as the purple pound – of over £200 billion a year. The Commission also found that businesses that weren’t engaging with their disabled customers were missing out on up to £420 million a week.

Other successes of the Commission include:

  • The Financial Conduct Authority launched a review of the insurance market.
  • Parliamentarians called for better regulation of taxis and private hire vehicles and an improved service to disabled consumers.
  • Scope worked with Which? to provide consumer rights advice on its website, including information for disabled people about how to complain and make their voices heard.
  • Ticket Factory is using Nimbus Disability’s Access Card to allow disabled people communicate their accessibility requirements when they buy tickets.

Extra Cost Commission chair and former Family Fund trustee Robin Hindle Fisher said: “Life costs more if you are disabled. The Extra Costs Commission focussed on how improving markets and competition can reduce the extra costs disabled people face.”

“We called on disabled people to be ‘bold and loud’ – to get their voices heard and let businesses know about the opportunities they are missing out on.”

“A year later we are delighted to see that where Britain’s 12.9 million disabled consumers and their families have made their voices heard, brands have risen to the challenge.”

“We would now like more businesses to recognise the value of their disabled customers and compete for a share of their considerable spending power.“

“This can only be good for companies and their shareholders and, at the same time, produce more competitive markets and improve the lives of disabled people.”

Penny Mordaunt, Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work, said: “The Extra Costs Commission rightly highlights the good sense of businesses that are making the most of the ‘purple pound’ by offering innovative products and services that disabled people need.”

“I hope it inspires other businesses to do likewise.”

Read the Extra Costs Commission progress report.

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