“The markets are failing disabled people, and they are having to pay more than they should just to live the same lives as others”, according to the Chair of a new independent commission that will look into the extra costs that disabled people face.
City businessman and fund management industry veteran Robin Hindle Fisher, says that markets aren’t working efficiently enough for disabled people, and the commission will find out how to get disabled consumers a better deal and drive down costs.
Other high-profile commissioners include TV presenter and campaigner Sophie Morgan, and Martin Coppack, independent commissioner and head of partnerships at the Financial Conduct Authority.
The commission has been launched in response to research by disability charity Scope, which reveals that disabled people pay a financial penalty on everyday living costs – on average £550 per month, with one in ten paying over £1000 a month.
The report uncovered that disabled people have to pay extra in three ways:
- Having to buy more of everyday things like heating, or taxis to work
- Paying for specialist items, like a wheelchair or a hoist or other equipment
- Paying more for everyday products and services, like insurance, travel, clothes and cutlery
The Commission on Extra Costs will look at how this happens and ways to tackle the problem.
The impact on disabled people’s living standards is laid bare in Scope’s report Priced out: ending the financial penalty of disability by 2020. It shows that disabled people:
Spend on average £550 per month extra. Nearly a fifth (17%) pay over £800 and 10% pay over £1000 extra a month.
- Are twice as likely to have unsecured debt totalling more than half of their household income
- Are three times more likely to use door step loans
- Have on average £108,000 fewer savings and assets than non-disabled people
- Have less pension wealth - in the 55-64 age groups, the gap in the level of private pension wealth held by disabled and non-disabled people is £125,000.
- One in five of disabled people told Scope they pay more for insurance because they are disabled. Six in ten who had been turned down for insurance said it was because of their disability.
The impact on disabled people’s finances and living standards is stark. These extra costs mean disabled people find it harder to enjoy family life fully, participate and contribute to their local communities, live independently, get into education and training, find and stay in employment, build their own financial resilience and contribute to pensions.
Over the next year a panel of business experts, economists, and disabled people will look at how businesses, local and national government, as well as the public and voluntary sectors can work in new and innovative ways tackle the disability premium.
Scope also wants to help the pubic better understand the issue. The charity is releasing an online game show called ‘The Price is Wrong’, a retro-style quiz which challenges players to guess how much extra everyday things cost disabled people. We will also be asking the public to take a ‘selfie’ with the number 550 and share it on social media and will be releasing a new set of powerful posters about the issue, which will be on display in its 200 charity shops.
Commission Chair Robin Hindle Fisher said:
“The markets are failing disabled people, and they are all too often paying more than they should in many areas of their lives. It’s important that markets work more efficiently.
“The extra costs disabled people pay have a direct impact on living standards, prevent many from contributing fully to their local communities, and from doing many of the things most of us take for granted.
“The Commission on Extra Costs will explore why this happens and identify where increased market competition and innovation would provide part of the solution.
“We need to work with everyone involved from charities, to local and national government and businesses to develop practical solutions to start to redress this imbalance.
“It is crucial that companies, regulators, local government, trade bodies, and disabled people’s organisations give us their perspective.”
Richard Hawkes, chief executive of Scope, said:
“Life costs more if you are disabled.
“Buying a wheelchair, higher energy bills - Scope research shows all this adds up to an extra £550 per month.
“But it’s a double blow when firms charge way over the odds for the things disabled people need just to live their lives. We’ve heard shocking stories from all over the country - £31 for a knife, a fork and a spoon, double the taxi fare.
“We want to end this financial penalty. That’s why we are launching a Commission to find ways to drastically bring down the premium disabled people pay.”
Notes to the editor:
The Commission on Extra Costs will run from July 2014 to June 2015. The Chair Robin Hindle Fisher has worked in the fund management industry for over 30 years. He has held senior positions at CEO, partner and managing director level at a number of leading organisations including Phillips & Drew Fund Management and Henderson. He is now a non-executive director of Ruffer LLP and a partner at the business coaching firm Hay Hill Partners.
The Commission will:
• Get a clear picture of who pays more, where and why they pay extra
• Find out what is it about the way markets provide products and services to disabled people that often leaves disabled people paying more for the same, steeper bills or with little option but to consume more of something like energy
• Take a closer look at infrastructure we all use including housing, transport, technology and equipment
• Seek innovative ways to tackle the financial penalty of disability and open up more opportunities for disabled people
For more information about the Commission go to www.scope.org.uk/commission
We are asking people to get in touch and tell us about their experiences of extra costs. We are also seeking formal evidence from a wide range of organisations including public policy and consumer rights experts, local authorities, voluntary organisations, advice agencies, businesses, regulators, innovators, and product or infrastructural designers.
Scope exists to make this country a place where disabled people have the same opportunities as everyone else. Until then, we’ll be here. We provide support, information and advice to more than a quarter of a million disabled people and their families every year. We raise awareness of the issues that matter. And with your support, we'll keep driving change across society until this country is great for everyone. For more information go to www.scope.org.uk
Priced out: ending the financial penalty of disability by 2020: brings together new research and analysis to give a fuller picture of where and why disabled pay more. It includes data gathered through a survey and in-depth interviews, as well as an investigation into the disability wealth penalty conducted by the Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion (CASE). For more information read our Priced Out blog