By Daniel Hunter
A business guide aimed at making more firms aware of the £80 billion potential spending power of disabled people and encourage them to capitalise on the success of the London 2012 Games is being launched today (Wednesday) by the Minister for Disabled People, Maria Miller.
Commonly referred to as the ‘purple pound’ the combined spending power of disabled people in the UK is £80 billion a year.
Now a new guide Growing your customer base to include disabled people is being launched to help small and medium sized business (SMEs).
“There are now over 11 million disabled people in the UK today which is around 19% of the population. This equates to a lot of clout for the purple pound," Minister for Disabled People, Maria Miller said in launching the guide at City Hall.
“Many SMEs — which make up the majority of UK businesses — are unaware of this potential market.
“That is why we are now launching a guide — specifically aimed at SMEs — which can help them win significant additional business from a new group of customers that they may not have targeted before.
“It’s a practical guide for businesses which gives common—sense and often low—cost solutions, which can make a big difference to a disabled customer.
“And what better time — at the start of the Paralympics — to realise the contribution that disabled people are making in all walks of life.”
The guide has been developed by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills in conjunction with the Employers’ Forum on Disability and the Department for Work and Pensions.
Research shows that there are two main barriers to SMEs focusing on disabled customers. One is low awareness of how they could boost their sales and profits by making their business more attractive to disabled customers.
The second is fear and discomfort with disability coupled with a narrow understanding of ‘access’ and confusion about what is meant by ‘reasonable adjustments'.
The guide odi.dwp.gov.uk/involving-disabled-people/business.php provides an explanation of why SMEs should consider making their businesses more accessible, their legal obligations as well as some practical but inexpensive changes they could apply to make their services more accessible to disabled customers.
It’s a practical guide for businesses which gives common—sense and often low—cost solutions, which can make a big difference to a disabled customer.
For example, if a shop provides a seat near to the till, this allows customers to sit while waiting to be served, or to rest their purchases at a raised level if lifting is difficult for them. This extra seating is appreciated by other visitors as well, especially mums with pushchairs.
The guide was launched at an event by the London Business Network at London House / City Hall — attended by hundreds of small and medium sized businesses — to encourage them to capitalise on the successes of the London 2012 Games.
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