Big business must be held to account

  • December 17, 2009
  • Bruce Bromley

M ROBERTS is right (Change bank if RBS is not suitable, Nov 21): many disabled people do take their estimated £80 billion a year business elsewhere. But why should they have to?

It’s not as if it’s always easy or convenient. In David Allen’s case, he opened an account when it was promoted in his primary school. Later, he started to rely on a wheelchair more and more. Now he can’t get into the branch where his account is held.

The Disability Discrimination Act requires service providers to think ahead about their access. As the Court of Appeal said, service providers must provide a service as close as reasonably possible to that provided to the public at large.

For the Royal Bank of Scotland, the work needed was perfectly reasonable – as we proved in court. Businesses only have to take reasonable steps: for the RBS, the cost of the building work was not an issue.

It can’t be right for big businesses to get away with discrimination when many smaller ones cater for their customers’ individual needs. After eight years at this branch, why should David have to change?

The point about this ruling is to encourage all service providers to provide inclusive access, not just the good ones. Those that fail, like the Royal Bank of Scotland, will face injunctions in the courts.