Disabled people delay contacting essential service providers by more than two months

Thu,21 September 2023
News Equality & Rights Participation
New research reveals that 73 % of Disabled people delay contacting essential service providers because they feel daunted by the process. This means they are missing out on much-needed support and important information.

Research by Experian has revealed that Disabled people, on average, are waiting more than two months before contacting a service provider. Those questioned cited feeling emotionally drained anxious and very demoralised after interactions with organisations.

The delay in contact is having a detrimental impact on people’s lives, with most Disabled people surveyed saying they would have spent the time resting or sleeping without feeling anxious if they could get the time back.

Major findings from the research show that:

  • Disabled people are waiting on average 82 days before contacting a service provider.
  • Just 19% of those with access needs have requested additional support from service providers.
  • 28% disabled people said their finances have been negatively impacted by not being able to easily contact essential services.

In exploring the behaviour of Disabled people around financial services for example, Disabled people with access requirements are less likely to switch service providers across multiple sectors – from credit cards to savings accounts, energy suppliers, and TV subscriptions. Only 28% have swapped credit cards and almost one third of those questioned said their finances had been negatively impacted by not being able to easily contact essential services. A further 28% polled said their finances had been negatively impacted by not being able to easily contact essential services.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has found that an estimated 7.4 million people have unsuccessfully attempted to contact one or more of their service providers, with the most vulnerable in society most likely to struggle.

When surveyed about possible solutions, 60% of Disabled people said they would like to use a service that informs multiple suppliers about their needs.

To help address the situation, Experian has launched Support Hub in collaboration with some of the country’s largest companies including HSBC UK, Nationwide Building Society, Tesco Bank, consumer credit provider NewDay, Co-operative Bank and Ovo.

The culmination of more than three years’ work between Experian, the founding partners and accessibility experts, Support Hub pilot offers a single one-stop portal for consumers to tell multiple businesses how they need to be contacted and what support they need to access their service. This service also does not require consumers to disclose their disability – only the support they require from the organisations they use.

José Luiz Rossi, Managing Director, Experian UK&I, said: “We need to remove the frustration and anxiety people feel when contacting service providers, and we must 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.”

Dan White policy and campaigns officer at DR UK said: “Disabled people feel frustrated and anxious daily about contacting many service providers, a prime example being the DWP when wishing to talk about benefits and support. Its great that something like Support Hub now exists, it can hopefully help people demoralised by a lack of assistance when calling providers.”

“A service provider is there to do exactly that! Provide a service, not to provide tension and inaccessibility.”