New voice for disabled consumers

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Disabled employees and customers will be able to get their views across

Disabled people will get a fresh chance to make their concerns heard as consumers, thanks to a government initiative to be announced on Tuesday.

Eleven sector champions are being appointed to help make different areas of business more accountable to the disabled.

They will cover business sectors including banking, tourism, retail and public transport.

The initiative is being launched by the Department for Work and Pensions.

"There are currently more than 11 million disabled people in the UK and the spending power of their households - 'the purple pound' - is almost £250bn," a spokesperson said.

"But many businesses are missing out on this potential customer base by having everyday products and services which aren't available to disabled people - who, as a result, are regularly excluded from experiences and opportunities that many others take for granted."

The sector champions are:

  • Helen Drury, corporate responsibility manager at shopping centre owner Intu (retail)
  • Suzanne Bull, chief executive of Attitude is Everything (music)
  • Huw Edwards, public affairs director at UKActive (leisure)
  • Chris Veitch, co-founder of Access New Business (tourism)
  • Robbin Sheppard, chairman of Bespoke Hotels (hotels)
  • Dan Brooke, chief marketing and communications officer at Channel 4 (media)
  • Sam Phillips, chief marketing officer at Omnicom Media Group (advertising)
  • Michael Connolly, regional training and standards manager at OCS Ltd (airports)
  • Jane Cole, managing director at Blackpool Transport Services (buses)
  • Trudie Hills, disability manager at Lloyds Bank (banking)
  • Jo Twist, chief executive of UKIE (gaming)

Disability Works

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  • The BBC's business and economics unit is looking at how businesses work with people with disabilities and how disabled people have made business work for them
  • A range of stories will feature across online, TV and radio this week
  • On Twitter and Facebook you can follow the hashtag #DisabilityWorks and at the end of the week you can download the Ouch podcast

The aim is for them to "amplify the voices of disabled customers and employees within their own industries", promoting changes and improvements that will make a difference to them.

At the same time, they will strive to show other businesses the merits of making disabled customers a priority.

The Minister for Disabled People, Work and Health, Penny Mordaunt, said: "As a public advocate for accessibility, these champions will help businesses realise the value of disabled consumers and the importance of catering to every customer's needs.

"These industries must become fully inclusive. Not being able to access the high street, products and services, transport or simply to access a loo jars with our national values: it must change."

Suzanne Bull of Attitude is Everything, an organisation that aims to improve deaf and disabled people's access to live music, said everyone should have the right to enjoy the arts.

"Only 3.6 million of the UK's 11 million disabled adults attended a live music event last year," she said.

"Fear of discrimination can deter deaf and disabled people from attending music events, but without their participation change won't occur.

"I'll be making a solid business case for accessibility and will be sharing best practice and innovative ideas, many of which don't only just focus on physical access, and demonstrate that ways of working can be adopted by other industries with a high degree of success."