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Almost a third of disabled people financially hit by problems accessing essential services providers

Rebecca Goodman
Written By:
Rebecca Goodman

Almost one in three, 28%, of disabled people also said their finances had been impacted negatively because they had problems accessing essential providers, new research has revealed.

Meanwhile, three quarters of disabled people said they had delayed contacting an essential service because they were daunted by the process.

This means they could be missing out on extra support and important information from a company such as a bank or energy provider.

On average disabled people wait more than two months before contacting a provider for help, the data from Experian showed. Of those 37% said they felt emotionally drained, 34% felt anxious and 27% said they were demoralised after having interactions with organisations.

One in five (19%) of people with access needs had requested extra support from a company.

Disabled people are also less likely to switch providers, from financial products like current accounts and credit cards to utility services like broadband and TV subscriptions.

Just 28% of those asked said they had switched credit cards, compared to 36% of people without additional access needs.

This means they could be missing out financially, as generally customers who regularly switch are given cheaper deals.

It comes as Experian has created a new support hub, which shares a person’s support needs with a range of different companies at once.

It provides a one-stop portal for disabled people so they don’t need to contact every single company they deal with to tell it what extra access support they need.

This could include information such as a person needing a longer appointment or needing to be accompanied by another adult. They can also list their preference for communication.

The service, which was soft-launched in April, is free and the person does not need to disclose what disability they have. They also have control over which companies the information is shared with, and can remove this permission at any point. It has been set up with a range of leading companies including HSBC, Tesco Bank, and Ovo.

‘The world is not built for minority groups’

José Luiz Rossi, managing director for Experian UK&I, said: “We need to remove the frustration and anxiety people feel when contacting service providers, and we have to build solutions and products that are accessible for everyone. The world is not built for minority groups, and we often expect people with disabilities to conform to typical expectations.

“We’ve built Support Hub with partners from the disabled community and our founding members, so we can help level the communications playing field for people with access requirements.

“This is a service that has been made with inclusivity in mind, allowing people to log their information, controlling what is shared and with who, so that multiple organisations know in advance how they should communicate with a customer – whether that be letters through the post in braille – or offer additional support for face-to-face appointments.”

Jose Carvalho, head of wealth and personal banking at HSBC UK, said: “It’s important that customers have easier access to the support they need, without needing to repeat themselves across multiple firms.

“Using a one-stop portal to tell their providers how they need to be contacted and supported, will help improve customer experience and make strides to create a more inclusive environment for all our customers.”