Scope with the support of the Barrow Cadbury Trust has spent the last year investigating the extra costs that disabled people face as a result of their disability.

The independent inquiry has been identifying market-based solutions for disabled people, businesses, disability organisations and government to drive down the extra costs faced by disabled people and their families.

The Commission’s report sets out 16 recommendations for tackling extra costs whilst specifically highlighting that:

  • Businesses and trade bodies should improve the customer experience of disabled people and recognise the power of the ‘purple pound’.
  • Disability organisations should improve information and services to disabled people and businesses to allow them to drive down the extra costs of disability.
  • Regulators and government should intervene where features of markets result in unfair extra costs for disabled people.

Chair of the Report, Robin Hindle Fisher also emphasised the importance of disabled people and their families being “bold and loud” and building a customer powerbase behind the so-called ‘purple pound’ as well as complaining when we get bad service.

The launch included a panel discussion which included Director of Policy at the Business Disability Forum and actor and campaigner, Julie Fernandez, who both pointed to the application of ‘honey’ and ‘vinegar’ incentives and regulations to help push for improvements.

Also on the panel was John Glen MP, Parliamentary Private Secretary to Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, Sajid Javid MP and a last minute stand-in for Minister for Disabled People, Justin Tomlinson.

Whilst disability isn’t Glen’s immediate field of expertise, Able Magazine editor, Tom Jamison, put it to the Minister that the figures would not be a surprise to disabled people who already know about the challenges they face and that given that there are almost 12 million disabled people in the UK, that this should be a broad, mainstream and inclusive subject that he should be more familiar with.

Jamison went as far as to say that whilst Scope and the supporting organisations had done an excellent job in putting together the report, that the Commission should really have been taken on by the Government as a project.

As the Commission has uncovered, disabled people pay a financial penalty on everyday living costs – on average £550 per month, with average extra costs payments (Disability Living Allowance and its successor Personal Independence Payment) for disabled people of around £360 per month.

The tables need to be turned using the economic influence that a collective spending power – valued at £212 billion, brings.

The Commission has promised to reconvene in a year to assess progress.