UK businesses miss out on £1.8 billion a month as disabled people 'walk away' from poor service

London, UK A report released today by the Extra Costs Commission led by disability charity Scope finds that 75 per cent of disabled people and their families have walked away from a UK business due to poor service.

Drawing upon research conducted by Business Disability Forum (BDF) in 2006 on the value of the 'Walk Away Pound', or the income lost by businesses that fail to make goods and services accessible to disabled people, the Commission surveyed over 2000 disabled people to find that businesses are losing an estimated £1.8 billion a month by ignoring the needs of disabled customers.

3 in 4 people reported they and families moved spending away from businesses including supermarkets, banks, utilities, restaurants and transport companies as a result of poor service and lack of disability awareness. The Commission has urged businesses to do more to value and serve the 'purple pound'- an estimated £212 billion market.

As a UK business membership organisation working with large private and public businesses that account for nearly 20% of the UK workforce, BDF welcomes the report, which adds to a growing business case for improving accessibility and usability of products and services for disabled people.

George Selvanera, Director of Policy, Services & Communications at BDF, said:

"The findings of the Commission's report are a call to action for business to seek out new ways of improving the customer experience for disabled people. 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.

"At BDF, we know it is not all bad news. Companies such as Barclays Bank, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Sainsbury’s, BT and others are leading the way in inclusive design and improving the disabled and older customer experience. There is more to do definitely, but there is learning from some of the best.’

Warren Buckley, Chair of BDF, said:

"We wholeheartedly welcome this report.

"The opportunities are there for businesses to grasp. We work with those that are already supplying excellent customer service, and this reports sets out how they can get even better at supplying of goods and services to disabled people.

"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."


Notes to editors

  1. 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. 
  2. The Commission is seeking responses to a consultation on its proposed recommendations–. The Commission’s final report will be published in June 2015.
  3. BDF is a not-for-profit business membership organisation that represents some 300 organisations that employ 20% of the UK workforce. Formerly called the Employers’ Forum on Disability, the company has more than twenty years experience of working with public and private sector employers and service providers. For more information about BDF, please visit:
  4. For all media enquiries please contact Ashley Teaupa, Interim Communications and Marketing Manager at Business Disability Forum on 020-7089-2463 or Warren Kirwan, Senior Press Officer at Scope on 020-7619-7200.
  5. Businesses that are willing to speak about how they are improving the accessibility of their products and services include Enterprise Rent-A-Car, and Barclays Bank. Please speak to Ashley or Warren for further details.

Ashley Teaupa - Interim Communications and Marketing Manager

Email: | Phone: 020 7089 2463


About Us

Business Disability Forum is a not-for-profit member organisation that makes it easier and more rewarding to do business with and employ disabled people. We have more than twenty years experience of working with public and private sector organisations, formerly as the Employers’ Forum on Disability. Our members employ almost 20% of the UK workforce and, together, we seek to remove the barriers between public and private organisations and disabled people. We are a key stakeholder for both business and government. We have contributed to the establishment and development of meaningful disability discrimination legislation in the UK. Business Disability Forum provides pragmatic support by sharing expertise, giving advice, providing training and facilitating networking opportunities. This helps organisations become fully accessible to disabled customers and employees. Our pioneering Disability Standard is a measure of an organisations’ ability to be disability-smart. It provides a framework for confidently and effectively aligning ways of working, changing behaviour and improving decision making across organisations. The Business Disability Forum President's Group and the Technology Taskforce define policy with members and government. The Technology Taskforce is led by Chief Technology Officers who define best practice, establishing in 2010 our Accessible Technology Charter, and support other members in aligning their organisations.