The Purple Pound


People with disabilities have a disposable income worth a massive £249 billion a year to the UK economy; this is the Purple Pound.

There are currently 12 million people with disabilities living in the UK. The number is growing annually due to our ageing population and advances in medical science, and that’s not including their families and carers.

Thousands of high street businesses could effectively be turning away custom by not attracting people with disabilities. As Banbury is looking to increase footfall into the town centre, this is an opportunity not to be missed. A large number of people currently travel to other towns which are more accessible to them.

The then Minister for Disabled people Mark Harper said back in 2014 that “We want businesses up and down our high streets to realise they’re excluding more than 12 million customers and their families if they fail to cater for disabled people”

“That’s the equivalent to the populations of London, Birmingham,Leeds, Sheffield, Cardiff and Manchester combined.”

“It’s not just about fairness, it makes good business sense to be accessible”

GOV.UK Press Release

Research from the DWP has shown that the disabled find shopping the most difficult experience for accessibility, followed by going to the cinema, drinking and eating out in pubs and restaurants was third on the list.

Easy and low cost ways to improve accessibility

  • Clearing clutter from shop aisles and ensuring there is a clear path between clothes rails.
  • If the main entrance of your business is not accessible but there is an alternative accessible entrance, post clear signage by the main entrance giving directions.
  • Printing Menus, leaflets etc in large font, 12-14 point is ideal.
  • Training staff so they are confident in offering assistance when needed.
  • Pubs and restaurants ensuring they have at least one table that is high enough to sit a wheelchair under comfortably.
  • Providing wheelchair space to manoeuvre.
  • Provide parking for disabled customers or make sure staff know where the nearest parking is located.
  • If your premises has disabled toilets are they free of clutter?
  • Ensuring your staff know where the nearest disabled toilets or changing place is located.
  • If your place of business is not accessible consider how you can provide the goods and services in a alternative fashion e.g. personal shopper, home delivery, or home visit service.

We feel that Banbury is perfectly placed to take advantage of the business opportunities in improving accessibility to disabled customers. This is due to it being a relatively flat town centre with the shops within easy reach of each other. All it needs is a few small improvements to make things more convenient and this would bring a greater proportion of the purple pound to our town.

We are currently campaigning for a changing places disabled toilet for the town which will increase the number of disabled visitors, and also locals able to spend more time here.

Kathryn Allsworth