A lack of competition in the mobility equipment market could be contributing to disabled people paying over the odds for things like powerchairs, mobility scooters and daily living aids.
That’s according to disability charity Scope, which has called for the Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA) to conduct a review into competition in the market to gauge whether the industry is working effectively for disabled people.
Scope is trying to get to the bottom of why mobility equipment and assistive technology is costing disabled people as much as it is and wants to assess the extent to which a lack of competition in the market is a factor.
A new report by the charity was published this week to shed light on the high costs disabled people are facing in their everyday lives.
It claims on average, disabled people face extra costs of £570 a month related to their impairment or condition. This is because of a need for specialist equipment, greater energy consumption and higher insurance premiums.
Scope is now calling on the mobility industry, regulators and the government to tackle the “unfair financial penalty for disabled people”.
The report cited the Prime Minister’s pledge to tackle the “burning injustice” of disability discrimination and noted that regulators and businesses are thinking more about the needs of disabled consumers. But it has outlined recommendations for businesses and ministers to follow to improve the situation.
It said: “There is an urgent need to address the problem of extra costs, which requires action on two different fronts. It means ensuring disabled people have the right support from our welfare system to help with extra costs, and taking action to drive down these costs in the first place.”
One of the changes Scope wants is a “complete overhaul” of the PIP assessment process so that it can accurately identify the barriers that can lead to extra costs for disabled people.
The report also wants businesses to develop goods and services that help reduce costs, and it wants regulators to work together to develop a shared definition of vulnerability that recognises the extra costs faced by disabled people.
In 2015 the Extra Costs Commission published a similar report to investigate the extra costs faced by disabled people. It also drew on the high cost of specialist mobility equipment and urged regulators, the government and businesses to push for change.