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Economic Justice

Scope’s Extra Costs Commission calls for disabled consumers to be ‘bold and loud’ in progress review launched today

The Extra Costs Commission was launched in response to research by disability charity Scope, which revealed 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.

Between July 2014 and June 2015 a group of 15 business people, consumer affairs experts and economists, including seven disabled people, explored how increased competition and better consumer information in key markets could drive down the cost of the goods and services that disabled people and their families need and reduce the impact of the extra costs of disability.  The Extra Costs Commission made 16 recommendations in June 2015.

Today the Commission has launched a progress review report on how the work towards delivering those recommendations has advanced, and how businesses, government, regulators and charities are responding to and better serving disabled consumers.  It found the following:

  • Increased recognition of the ‘purple pound’ by businesses, regulators and government.
  • That disabled people needed to be ‘bold and loud’ to get better deals – household names M & S and Uber rise to the challenge.
  • Life costs more if you are disabled – on average extra costs add up to £550 per month.

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, M & S 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 than 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 £420m 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 to communicate their accessibility requirements when they buy tickets.

Read the Progress Report.