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‘Tell it once’-style tool launched to help disabled people access banks and utility firms

Rebecca Goodman
Written By:
Rebecca Goodman

A new ‘tell it once’ service aimed at helping disabled people and those with additional support needs to access essential companies, is being piloted.

The pilot scheme gives disabled people access to one portal where they can tell multiple organisations what they need to access essential services.

There are around 25 million people in the UK who find it harder to interact with organisations including utility firms and financial services companies because they are disabled or have additional support needs, according to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

Yet 85% of vulnerable consumers have not shared their support needs with banks or building societies, rising to 90% for telecoms firms, 91% for credit card providers and 92% for pension providers.

For those impacted, having to repeatedly tell different firms what support they need can have a range of side effects from frustration and exhaustion to wasted time and financial detriment.

One portal to communicate with a range of businesses

The new tool, called Support Hub, aims to make the process easier for those who need it.

It lets people tell multiple businesses and organisations how they would like to be contacted, such as if they need to receive letters instead of emails or texts instead of phone calls.

They can also give information about what help and support they need to access a service, such as if they need a longer appointment or if they need someone else to accompany them.

The Support Hub is being piloted by Experian and is free to use. Those who sign up can create an account, select their support needs, and then choose with organisations to share these with.

They do not have to disclose their disability, just the support they require. They can also control which companies or organisations they share this information with and can remove this permission at any time.

The aim of the tool is also to help companies to better identify and support vulnerable customers.

It comes before the FCA’s ‘Consumer Duty’ launches in July which will introduce new obligations on firms to provide better communication methods and better identify vulnerable customers, so they can put in place appropriate support.

It has been created by Experian, disability and accessibility experts Chris Fitch and Dan Holloway, and a network of major financial services firms and charities.

Experian said it is completely separate from its credit business and there will be no impact on a person’s credit scores or their ability to apply for credit if they sign up.

‘Empowering consumers to get on with their lives’

Jose Luiz Rossi, managing director for Experian UK&I, said: “By involving vulnerability experts and consumers from the very start of the development process, we’ve been able to truly engage with accessibility issues faced by disabled people and those with additional support needs.

“Those issues can be frustrating and overwhelming. Support Hub solves a genuine consumer problem and will be offered across a range of sectors, empowering consumers to get on with their lives, and supporting businesses to help better identify their customers who need additional support and develop appropriate services for them.”