Billing

Women and Equalities written question – answered at on 21 June 2023.

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Photo of Damien Moore Damien Moore Conservative, Southport

To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, what discussions she has had with Cabinet colleagues of the potential merits of requiring all (a) utility, (b) banks and (c) other companies to provide paper bills in addition to electronic bills to people aged over 70.

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)

We fully recognise that some older people do not find it easy to access bills and statements electronically. Utility companies, banks and other service providers should, and in many cases do, recognise the varying communication needs of their customers but there is always scope for them to do more.

The Equality Act 2010 provides strong protection for older people, from discrimination because of age and disability. This includes protection from indirect discrimination, which can happen where, for example, a service provider treats some of its younger customers the same but in doing so disadvantages its older customers. While every case is different and subject to an “objective justification” test, using purely electronic communication could amount to indirect discrimination because of age and/ or disability and companies need to be aware of that.

A person who feels that they have experienced age discrimination may contact the Equality Advisory and Support Service (EASS), the government helpline established to provide free bespoke advice and in-depth support to individuals with discrimination concerns. The EASS can be contacted via their website - http://www.equalityadvisoryservice.com/, by telephone on 0808 8000082 or text phone on 0808 8000084. The EASS has the ability to intervene on an individual’s behalf with a service provider to help resolve an issue. The EASS can also advise people who wish to take their complaint further on their options.

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