How disabled people can become savvy consumers

Why is life more expensive if you are disabled? What can be done to bring this premium down? How we can enable disabled people to become smarter purchasers of goods and services?

That’s what  the year-long inquiry into disabled people’s extra costs took a close look at their first roundtable debate.

Here is Andy Simpson from the Family Fund explaining why life costs more for disabled families.

The event kicked off with Dr Roger Wicks director of policy and campaigns at Action on Hearing Loss explains where companies are going wrong and where the main challenges lie. Independent commissioner Martin Coppack explains how many businesses have a ‘mythical consumer’ and very streamlined front-line response teams.

Jonathan Stearn from Citizen’s Advice Bureau picked up on the theme that products targeted at targeted at specific groups fail. All consumers are vulnerable at different times, and disabled people are only vulnerable when they denied goods and services by company systems that are not responsive enough.


The debate focused on how we change the behaviour of companies, and make it easier for disabled people to be savvier consumers.

One great  idea was to target accountants for small businesses as a way of introducing new concepts because every small business uses them.  Another was the introduction of a ‘gold standard’ for organisations to aim for.

However, all too often disabled people aren’t consumers in a market because they can’t afford to get into it in the first place.  But there are solutions.

We heard how successful Motability is at creating a market in leased cars, scooters and powered wheelchairs for disabled people. All someone needs to take part is exchange their mobility allowance. This gives Motability a massive stake in the market and the leverage and expertise  to reduce costs, admin and time to the consumer.

Other great examples that were thrown into the mix included SENDirect that brokers information, advice and costs of services to parents of disabled children.

The final speaker was Richard Garner from Purple Compare on how he plans to update the concept of comparison websites to give disabled consumers better information, and crucially a better deal.

Find out more about Scope’s extra costs work.


One thought on “How disabled people can become savvy consumers”

  1. The biggest problem is that many disabled people are unable to get out to look around the high street. They have to rely on catalogues.
    Catalogues specifically aimed at disabled people charge extortionate prices for things that are available on the high street for far less. ie some years ago I bought a lap tray on a local market for £2.99 complete with non slip detachable mat. The same tray in the catalogues was £15 without the mat which you could buy separately.
    Many small gadgets and appliances are available on the high street so why are things specifically sold for the disabled so much more expensive? Why do sellers (not manufacturers as these are sold everywhere) think it is ok to charge so much more just because they have a captive clientele?

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