UK businesses lose £1.8bn a month by ignoring the needs of disabled customers

By Sophie Witts contact

- Last updated on GMT

Many hospitality businesses fail to provide adequate disabled facilities
Many hospitality businesses fail to provide adequate disabled facilities

Related tags: Disabled people, Disability

UK businesses, including pubs, hotels and restaurants, are losing an estimated £1.8bn a month by ignoring the needs of disabled customers, according to a report by Scope and the Extra Costs Commission.

The survey of over 2000 disabled people found that 75 per cent of participants and their families have stopped spending money at restaurants and other businesses as a result of poor service and lack of disability awareness.

George Selvanera, director of policy, services & communications at the Business Disability Forum (BDF), hailed the findings as a 'call to action' for businesses to improve the customer experience for disabled people.

He said: “The rapid ageing of the UK population, growing numbers of older and disabled people, and changing technology make the case for business investing in improving accessibility more and more compelling.”

Government review

The report follows a 2014 government audit of more than 30,000 businesses which found that 40 per cent of restaurants do not have an accessible toilet.

Only 15 per cent of restaurants and shops had hearing loops, and three quarters of restaurants did not cater for those with visual impairments.

Separate research by AccessChamp last year found that just one in ten hotel rooms met the needs of disabled guests​.

Warren Buckley, BDF chair, said: "The Government value the purple pound at over £200bn. Businesses that improve how they work with disabled consumers will have an advantage over their competitors.”

Jackie Grech, legal and policy director for the British Hospitality Association said the industry was supportive towards improving access and training staff to assist disabled customers.

She said: “It becomes a greater challenge to retrofit listed and historic buildings for disabled access as a result of Listed and heritage building planning regulations. We are always looking for ways to improve access and hope our continued dialog with customers on this matter will continue."

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