Consumer power can be a powerful force for change, particularly in an era of social media. When it comes to advocacy for disabled rights, the £212bn in estimated purchasing power for the so-called purple pound makes for an interesting argument.
Rather than treating people with disabilities as victims of the system, this figure, from the Extra Rights Commission, suggests that they have considerable powers of persuasion, when viewed as consumers with a disposable income.
The Freedom to Spend
“There are various barriers to disabled consumers’ spending,” comments Paul Green, director of Versatile Lift Company, . “One is the lack of access and provision made in many high street shops, restaurants and cafes. Another is that this same general lack of provision means disabled people often have to spend more, simply to exist on an everyday level. This, then, affects the amount of money they have at their disposal.”
The non-profit organisation Purple estimates that disabled people can be spending up to £500 extra per month on things like transport, care and shopping for essential goods.
“Clearly there’s a question of exclusion on various levels here,” Paul continues. “And yet many issues like this can be easily addressed by the provision of the right kind of access.”
Modern access solutions can be made to fit differing locations, circumstances and requirements.
“Businesses should think in terms of investment as much as social responsibility, or duty of care. The purple pound is not simply a figment or fad. It represents a whole, diverse range of potential consumers”
Paul Green, Versatile Lift Company
Paul’s company specialises in lift and access solutions for a variety of organisations and commercial businesses.
“A lift is not simply a metal box,” he explains. “It can be any one of a number of versatile, mechanical solutions. Different places require different solutions, but once installed, these can then solve access and inclusivity issues.”
The Business Disability Forum has created a new category in its Disability-smart Awards scheme. This is for businesses showing an active willingness to find solutions for their disabled customers. It is a clear signifier of changing times and attitudes.
“The incentives are economic, social and reputational,” Paul concludes. “People shouldn’t be excluded from the consumer society on the basis of disability. Nor should businesses put themselves out of reach of the purple pound’s purchasing power.