UK SMES NEED BETTER ADVICE TO CATER FOR DISABLED CUSTOMERS
A press release from Barclays:
Majority of UK SMEs aren’t currently catering for disabled customers – a market worth £212billion
· There are 11million disabled people in UK – comprising 17% of population
· 77% of UK SME business owners would seek advice on how to make their business more accessible
· Barclays launches new portal to help businesses become accessibility confident
From lifts and loos, to signs and websites, UK businesses could be missing out by not providing basic services to meet the needs of disabled people, research from Barclays Business reveals1 – a market worth up to £212billion2.
Nine out of ten (91%) UK SME business owners say their business does not currently have a lift if there is more than one floor, while four fifths (83%) say their products and services are not designed to be accessible to all customers, including those with sensory or mobility disabilities. A further 81% of UK SME business owners say they do not have car parking spaces for people with disabilities, while 74% do not have a ramp, and a further 74% do not have toilets that are easily accessible1.
Barclays’ research also found that only one in ten UK SME businesses currently provides written communications in braille (10%), and one in ten in audio (11%), while only a third (31%) have signs that are easy to read – in high-contrast and in large type1. This is despite the fact that provision of accessible formats is required under the Equality Act (2010).
At 11 million³ and with a spending power estimated to be worth £212 billion2, people with disabilities make up a significant proportion of UK consumers and their number is predicted to grow over the coming years4. Yet almost one in five (18%) SME business owners are not sure what the benefit of making their business more inclusive would be, while a similar number (17%) say they would not know where to start or what adjustments would need to be made.
For 23%, the costs of making their company accessible is too high, and 8% say it would be too much hassle. However, while the majority of UK companies are not currently applying ‘inclusive design’ – the process of making something more accessible and inclusive – to their business, over three quarters (77%) of SME business owners would seek advice on how to make their business more accessible if they had the right guidance. To help businesses with this, Barclays has created a new website specifically for businesses with information on how they can become more accessible based on its own experience of creating products and services to meet a broad audience with a spectrum of needs.
Adam Rowse, Head of Business Banking at Barclays, commented: “We want to help businesses become more confident on the topic of disability. The research demonstrates a large gap exists in educating and equipping businesses with the right tools and guidance on accessibility and in catering for disabled customers. It also shows the business SMEs could be turning away, simply by not knowing where to start.
Tony Adamson, Managing Director, Enterprise and Innovation at Leonard Cheshire Disability, commented: “At Leonard Cheshire Disability we work to ensure disabled people are treated fairly and offered the same opportunities as everyone else. With that in mind, we are delighted Barclays has produced this resource as a demonstration of their commitment to supporting businesses to help them become inclusive and accessible to all.”