Customers with a Disability: Reasonable Adjustments

Women and Equalities – in the House of Commons on 26 April 2023.

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Photo of Richard Foord Richard Foord Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Defence)

What steps the Government is taking to help ensure that companies make reasonable adjustments for customers with a disability.

Photo of Stuart Andrew Stuart Andrew Assistant Whip, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Culture, Media and Sport), Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade) (Minister for Equalities)

The Equality Act 2010 places a duty on businesses and service providers to make reasonable adjustments to improve disabled people’s access to the goods and services that they provide. It is imperative that disabled people are not placed at a substantial disadvantage in comparison with those who are non-disabled.

Photo of Richard Foord Richard Foord Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Defence)

Maggie from my part of east Devon is one of 11 million people in this country who have hearing loss. Maggie went to a well-known high street branch and explained that because of her hearing she is unable to use the phone. She was offered a 50-mile round trip to Exeter instead. In pursuit of the Equality Act, can the Minister explain what the Government are doing to ensure that banks and big businesses make reasonable adjustments for those with hearing loss?

Photo of Stuart Andrew Stuart Andrew Assistant Whip, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Culture, Media and Sport), Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade) (Minister for Equalities)

I am sorry to hear the example that the hon. Gentleman gives about his constituent. Under the Equality Act, it would be indirect discrimination if a service provider put in place rules or procedures that applied in the same way for everyone but had a disproportionate adverse effect on particular groups. I am more than happy to meet the hon. Gentleman to discuss the issue and see whether further action can be devised for his constituent.

Photo of Oliver Heald Oliver Heald Conservative, North East Hertfordshire

Does my right hon. Friend agree that this goes hand in hand with Access to Work? Does he agree that it is important that those who assess for Access to Work grants should not be too much the generalist? They should have specific knowledge of the condition of the person concerned. I would be interested to know whether the Minister has any plans to explain how the situation might be improved, because I have had one or two complaints.

Photo of Stuart Andrew Stuart Andrew Assistant Whip, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Culture, Media and Sport), Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade) (Minister for Equalities)

The Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work is looking at the matter as we speak, to see how things can be streamlined. I will be more than happy to update my right hon. and learned Friend with further details.