Nearly three-quarters (73%) of people with disabilities have delayed contacting an essential service provider because it seemed too daunting, a survey indicates.
This could mean they are potentially missing out on much-needed support and important information, according to credit information company Experian, which commissioned the research.
On average, people with disabilities said they waited more than two months (82 days) before contacting a provider.
They cited feeling emotionally drained (37%), anxious (34%) or demoralised (27%) after interactions with organisations.
People with access requirements are also less likely to switch service providers across multiple sectors – from credit cards to savings accounts, energy suppliers, and TV subscriptions – Experian found.
For example, only 28% have swapped credit cards, compared with 36% among people without access needs.
Nearly three in 10 (28%) people with disabilities said their finances have been negatively affected by not being able to easily contact essential services.
Experian has launched a free-to-use “support hub” in collaboration with major brands including HSBC UK, Nationwide Building Society, Tesco Bank, consumer credit provider NewDay, Co-operative Bank and Ovo.
The hub aims to offer a “one-stop” portal for people to tell multiple businesses how they need to be contacted and what support they need to access their service.
This could include preferred method of communication such as letter, telephone, or email, or other requirements such as needing a longer appointment, or being accompanied by another adult to assist them.
Experian said the hub does not require consumers to disclose their disability – only the support they require from the organisations they use.
It added that users have control over which organisations they share information with, and what needs they share, and can withdraw their permission at any time.
Jose Luiz Rossi, managing director, Experian UK & Ireland, said: “We need to remove the frustration and anxiety people feel when contacting service providers, and we have to 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, allowing people to log their information, controlling what is shared and with who, so that multiple organisations know in advance how they should communicate with a customer – whether that be letters through the post in Braille – or offer additional support for face-to-face appointments.”
Opinium surveyed 1,000 adults with support needs and 1,000 adults without support needs across the UK in July for the research.
More information about the hub can be found at supporthub.experian.co.uk.
Tesco Bank chief executive Gerry Mallon said: “The development of the Experian support hub forms part of our commitment to help make life easier for those who might need a little extra support.”
Jose Carvalho, head of wealth and personal banking, HSBC UK, said: “It’s important that customers have easier access to the support they need, without needing to repeat themselves across multiple firms.”
Sarah Liddon, senior customer vulnerability manager, Nationwide Building Society, said: “We’re pleased to be a founding member of Support Hub, working with Experian and the other organisations to make life easier for consumers, no matter who their service provider is.”
Maria Cearns, chief operating officer at the Co-operative Bank, said: “Being able to declare support needs to multiple organisations at the same time and in an accessible way will make a genuine difference to our customers’ lives and will enable us to better support them.”
Gareth Wood, VP operations, Ovo, said: “Ovo is committed to providing an inclusive service for everyone and we encourage all customers to explore the options available to them through using the support hub.”