Disabled people hit harder by cost of living crisis

Firms are advised on how they can better attract disabled customers this Purple Tuesday

As UK inflation soars, 68% of disabled people think they have been or will be more severely impacted by the cost-of-living crisis than those without disabilities.

Recent evidence indicates disabled households’ higher living costs and lower income are to blame. Nearly half of disabled households (48%) have struggled to keep their home warm and comfortable at some point this year, compared to 30% of non-disabled households.

Additionally, 29% of households where someone is disabled are in ‘serious financial difficulty’ compared with 13% of other households.

Purple’s findings

The stats are the results of new research by Purple, which brings people and businesses together to improve disabled people’s customer experiences.

Around 70% of disabled people believe customer-facing businesses cater more for people with visible disabilities than hidden disabilities. Equally, 70% of disabled people have experienced poor customer service.

Purple’s research highlights that there is vast room for improvement. And what businesses and organisations can do to ensure disabled people – who make up 1 in 5 of the population – choose to buy their goods and services with them at a time when their spending is so constrained. 

Impactful tips

Here are five tips Purple hopes will help businesses and organisations address the most common grips made by disabled people, turning them into loyal customers.

1. Do not charge disabled people more to accommodate their needs (important to 78%)

43% of respondents felt they are often charged more to use insurance services, and more than a third (33%) feel they are charged more to use travel, leisure and automotive services.

2. Allow disabled people to pay a spontaneous visit without having to plan in advance or find a workaround for their needs (important to 73%)

More than half (54%) of disabled people will not return to a venue with inaccessible toilets, and a further 48% will avoid those with inaccessible entrances and store navigation.

3. Employ disabled people (important to 70%)

Two-thirds (66%) prefer brands that feature disabled people in their marketing, and 52% prefer brands that are led by people with disabilities.

4. Make accessibility information easy to find on the website (important to 69%)

50% of disabled people say they will not visit a place if their website is inaccessible.

5. Provide a choice of communication methods (phone, text, email) (important to 67%)

62% of disabled people favour brands that can offer personalised services to meet their needs. 

Purple Tuesday

Many businesses have already outlined new commitments to make their product or service more attractive to disabled people and help mark Purple Tuesday, a change programme for organisations of all sizes from all sectors to get involved in. Key partners include headline partner eBay, Allwyn, Whitbread, Boots, giffgaff, Zurich, Visit England, Landsec and many others.

Mike Adams OBE, Founder and Creator of Purple Tuesday, said: “While disabled people have been disproportionally affected by the current cost of living crisis, they still have significant spending power. However, they’re simply going to take their business elsewhere if their needs aren’t met, or they’re not getting a fair deal.

“Businesses have a lot to gain – especially in this current crisis – by taking steps to improve their approach and access for disabled people. These changes aren’t massive, off-putting, expensive ones, but simple adjustments that are easy to implement that will reap financial rewards.”  

Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Mel Stride MP said: “Disabled people deserve the same opportunities as everyone else to reach their full potential in all areas of society. Purple Tuesday is an important reminder for businesses to be more inclusive of disabled people and recognise the power of the Purple Pound, which is worth a staggering £274 billion. 

“I know disabled people are especially impacted by the rising cost of living, which is why this Government is providing six million people with an extra £150 this year as part of a wider £37 billion package of support. We have also helped support 1.3 million more disabled people into work since 2017 through schemes like Access to Work and Disability Confident.” 

Chris Gale, Head of Social Impact, eBay UK, said: The impact of the cost-of-living crisis is widespread, but not equal, and this Purple Tuesday, it’s essential to recognise the disproportionate challenges that disabled people are facing.

“At eBay, our goal is to create economic opportunity for all. This means ensuring that, whether you are a buyer, a seller, or an entrepreneur with a disability, you can unlock the possibilities of our platform and global community.

“In the face of a tough economic climate, businesses like us have more responsibility than ever to ensure no one is left behind.” – Chris Gale, Head of Social Impact, eBay UK.”

This year, Purple Tuesday has scaled up significantly to become a global event, with celebrations taking place today in Minnesota in the US, Pakistan, Dubai and Malaysia, as well as the UK.

More than 6,000 organisations globally are so far using Purple Tuesday 2022 as an opportunity to make practical commitments to improve the customer experience for disabled people 365 days a year so they can take advantage of the $13tn Purple Dollar/ £276bn Purple Pound – the combined spending power of disabled people and their families.

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