Failure to cater for disabilities could be costing small businesses

A failure to cater for the needs of disabled customers could mean that the UK’s small businesses are missing out on a market worth more than £200 billion.

According to Barclays Business, many firms fail to provide even basic services that can support disabled customers, which means many take their custom elsewhere.

In a market worth an estimated £212 billion by the bank, 83% of businesses said their products and services are not designed to be accessible to all customers, which includes those with sensory or mobility disabilities.

Nine in ten SMEs that had more than one floor of selling space said they did not have a lift and 81% lack car parking for those with disabilities.

A further 74% both said they lack ramps and easily accessible toilets, potentially placing further limits on their ability to sell.

Despite accessible formats being a requirement of the Equality Act 2010, just 10% of businesses have written communications in braille or audio, while less than a third have signs that are deemed easy to read, in high contrast and with larger type.

Barclays Business reports that there are 11 million people in the UK with some sort of disability and that their spending power todays well over £200 billion.

Despite this representing a large chunk of the market, 18% of business owners said they were unsure of the benefits that being more inclusive would bring, while 17% said they did not know where to start.

Nearly a quarter suggested the cost of making their business premises accessible is too high and one in ten said it would cause too much hassle and disruption.

Business owners did say they would improve accessibility if given the right guidance though and suggested that more awareness is needed of the issue.

Should an owner feel their business is not fulfilling its potential, they may wish to seek corporate advisory services who can provide information on how to find the best solutions.

The Barclays study highlights the need to act, as firms that look to cater to the needs of as many people as possible were deemed those most likely to be successful.

By Phil Smith

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