Affording disabled people and carers access to shops and services

31st January 2017

Hundreds of Sheffield's high street businesses could effectively be turning away the custom of 1 in 5 people by not attracting disabled people and carers.

Research from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has shows disabled people find shopping the most difficult experience for accessibility, followed by going to the cinema, theatre and concerts. Drinking and eating out at pubs and restaurants was third on the list. Nearly a fifth of Sheffield's population (19%) has a long term health condition or impairment that's well over 100,000 people. Some of these disabled people will have their care needs undertaken by family members or friends who will be drawn from the city's army of some 60,000 unpaid and informal carers. To aid people's independence Sheffield city Council have entered a partnership with Disability Sheffield, Nimbus and Disabled Go and have produced online guides together with the Access Card and Carers Card which are all about making life easier for disabled people and carers. The Access Card is a card that disabled people can use as a discreet way of letting someone know that they have an impairment. The card has symbols on which highlight the barriers that a disabled person is facing and the reasonable adjustments that people need. -The card would be a useful tool, to save me the time and humiliation of having to explain everything often to people who don't have time, or are in a noisy environment so I have to shout! Some providers might offer disabled people a discount or a special offer, for others it might be accepted as evidence in order to access a free PA or Carer ticket for example. The Access Card is being rolled out throughout the UK whilst the Carer Card is specific to Sheffield. It is important to highlight that the cards offer businesses a means to tap into the £212 billion so called 'purple pound' by attracting disabled people, their friends and families to their services, the cards also recognise the contribution of Sheffield's 60,000 carers, many on low incomes, who save the UK economy in excess of some £1,116,000,000 expenditure. In the UK there are over 7 million carers and the economic value of the contribution made by carers in the UK is £132bn a year. The Carer Card has been designed as a specific response to the barriers that carers face and to recognise and reward carers for the work that they which is mostly unpaid. Sheffield City Council have funded this project which will enable carers for the first time to have a card that they can show to providers in recognition of their caring role. What we are looking to achieve is to get businesses in Sheffield on board with both of the cards and to offer something to both disabled people and carers. This could be a free cup of coffee, money off a service or some freebies. For many informal carers this could represent a chance to get out and about for a walk or go shopping for themselves that's how much this card can mean to some family carers whose lives are totally consumed by looking after someone day in day out. That's why the Carers card is such a potentially brilliant thing where the Council are coming in to help and give the carers a bit of respite. Disabled People in Sheffield like others throughout the UK are facing a challenging time under austerity the Access Card just offers them the chance to go out safe in the knowledge that their needs are understood and that they don't have to explain at every turn just how difficult it is putting up with the additional costs of being disabled or why as a wheelchair user they need level access or where someone who has a PA needs to pay double for everything they do. The magic thing about both cards is that they bring economic benefits to the city and the city's shops and businesses. If a shop is accessible disabled people will spend their money there if the shop isn't accessible? Well, they'll go elsewhere. That's potentially 103,000 customers. The 60, 000 carers in the city look after many disabled people too. Can Sheffield afford not to have the Carers card and Access card widely accepted throughout. From Chapletown to Totley! Can you afford to be without an Access or Carers Card?

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