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11 March 2015

British businesses urged to give better service to disabled shoppers

The Extra Costs Commission has set out a blueprint for business to value and serve the purple pound - the potential spending power of disabled people. It comes after an independent panel of business experts revealed (5 March)  interim results of a year-long investigation into ways to improve how goods and services are supplied to disabled people.

The investigation was prompted by concerns about the extra costs incurred by people with a  disability. In a survey of over 2500 disabled people and their families, the Extra Costs Commission found that 75% have left a shop or business because it failed to meet their needs, with those businesses missing out on a total of £1.8 billion each month.


The interim report makes the economic case for addressing this issue. It sets out a range of short term recommendations for charities like Epilepsy Society, which represent people with  long term conditions and disability, to empower them to become savvier consumers by

  • Setting up an online review site for disability-related products, so disabled people can tell each other about the best value deals or good customer service
  • Piloting a Nectar card type affiliate scheme to help disabled people get good deals and help businesses reach this group
  • Switching schemes and buyers clubs to drive down costs of things disabled people buy more of
  • Increased awareness of the value of the purple pound - the potential spending power of disabled people - and better evidence about disabled consumers to help businesses serve them more effectively

Incurring additional costs

Epilepsy Society’s policy adviser Katharine McIntosh said: ‘We welcome the focus that the Extra Costs Commission has brought on this important issue. Our research, which we fed into the Commission, showed that in order to live an independent, safe and full life, many individuals with epilepsy incur additional costs. Due to public funding cuts and tightening eligibility criteria, and the fluctuating nature of epilepsy and misunderstanding about its impact on daily living, people with epilepsy often do not qualify for additional support.’