What is the Purple Pound?

purppo (1)

The power of the purple pound explained

At SPECTRUM we have talked about the spending power of Disabled People for a very long time.

The point being that there are a lot of Disabled People in the UK, they spend money – and no business, big or small (profit making or not-for-profit), can afford to ignore THAT many people, and THAT much ££££££.

As long ago as maybe 2010, Disabled People and others started to try to compare the spending power (and therefore influence) to other groups of people. For Instance, the spending power of Older People is usually referred to as the Grey Pound, or Silver Pound.

In the last few years the spending power of Disabled People has become known as the Purple Pound

purple-pound-sign (1)In the UK, it is thought that some 7 million Disabled People people are of working age, and overall there are 12.9 million Disabled People in total in the UK. This all adds up to an awful lot of spending power!

The “purple pound” is reckoned to be worth around £249bn to the UK economy.

Do disabled people have much spending power?

The UK’s Disabled People are said to have disposable income collectively worth nearly £250bn. Campaign groups regularly cite this figure and find it useful to remind businesses and politicians that Disabled People are a sizeable economic, and political force and should not be forgotten.


Disability consultant Mary-Anne Rankin says that businesses should think inclusively from the very beginning of any product or service they’re starting. She says:

“You’ve got to think about the widest possible usage of your services and explore innovative ways of enabling everybody to benefit from them. Because after all if your customers can benefit you’re going to make more money.”


As with why it is the colour purple (see below), similarly many people scratch their heads as to how the £BN figure was derived. All seem to agree it came from the DWP in 2004, but even they say the maths has been lost in the 10 years since it was first suggested. DWP says it was created using raw data from the updated Disability Discrimination Act in that year, alongside data from the Family Resources Survey of 2002-2003.

Whatever the variously quoted £BN’s, the fact is that we are talking a huge amount of money.

How does the Purple Pound compare to other groups?

  • Black and ethnic minority spending power, £300bn – 12% of the population of the UK, according to the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising, IPA, 2012.
  • Consumer power of the gay community, £70bn to £81bn – thought to be 6% of the UK, according to OutNow Consulting, 2007.
  • Overall UK disposable income of its 25 million households plus non-profit sector, 1.078 trillion pounds, according to the Office for National Statistics, ONS, 2012.

If you would like to read more – including why it is called the Purple Pound, follow the following links:


So – there you are – The Purple Pound

 purppo (1)

What is a User-Led Organisation?


SPECTRUM’s Guidance concerning: what are the unique characteristics of a ULO?

SPECTRUM Centre for Independent Living is an organisation run and controlled by Disabled People. We formed in 1984 as one of the first organisation in the UK that were run and controlled and managed by Disabled People.

We are therefore a User Led Organisation (ULO) and have been since our formation, and indeed, before the term ‘ULO’ was even coined.

With this history and experience, we have built up a range of resources and expertise to guide organisation that wish to be a ULO, and for commissioners who want to encourage the development of more ULO’s. We are able to provide training and consultancy services on request.

This information leaflet has been developed to help interested parties to understand what the key issues are in creating an effective and engaging ULO.

A few years ago, the Department of Health developed a ‘Design Criteria’ of 21 criteria for ULO’s to aspire to. Whilst SPECTRUM broadly supports these, we recognise they are complex and can be off-putting to many. However, we also know that being an effective ULO is a lot more than just having a majority of the organisation’s user-base on the Management Committee or governing bodies.

SPECTRUM has worked with many ULO’s, organisations wishing become a ULO and with commissioners who want to help develop a ULO. As a result of this work we have developed this guidance which helps new and evolving ULO’s to understand what the essential and desirable characteristics of a ULO are.

What is essential for a ULO? and what is just desirable for a ULO?

Understanding what a ULO is:

The starting point for understanding what a ULO is, is the definition developed from the Department of Health’s User-Led Organisation project, which defined a ULO as:

an organisation that covers all local Disabled People, Carers and other people who use support either directly or via establishing links with other local organisations and networks”

It is recognised and accepted that not all new and emerging groups would meet all of the design criteria at the early stages of their development, although they would normally be expected to be working towards meeting them over time. The Department of Health policy also acknowledges that these criteria may be met in a variety of ways according to local demand, resources and circumstances.

It is also important to note that it is not strictly necessary for a ULO to describe itself as such in order to meet the criteria. What a group does, and how it is run, are more important than what they call themselves.

SPECTRUM has observed that the design criteria were not necessarily a good fit for all types of groups (especially non-disability groups). To fix that, we have adapted the criteria in consultation with other ULO’s so that they make more sense in the specific context of ULO development.

These revised criteria are detailed below, providing clarity and comment about what is an essential characteristic and what is desirable or a longer term aim:




Disability Manifesto 2017: The NHS

With just a few more days till the General Election, SPECTRUM Centre for Independent Living is today focusing on the NHS. The aim of the Disability Manifesto is to highlight the issues that Disabled People feel ALL political parties should commit to, following the General Election. We welcome your feedback on our Facebook page or via Twitter using the hashtag #DisMan17



Disabled People, particularly People with Learning Difficulties or Mental Health Conditions, experience significant and persistent health inequalities and are likely to die younger than other people.i They are also much less likely to receive health checks, screening tests and other routine healthcare treatment.

Disabled People are less likely to report positive experiences in accessing healthcare services.

Despite a commitment by the Government to make improvements to the provision of mental health services, considerable shortcomings remain. Disabled adults are more likely to report poor mental health and wellbeing than non-disabled adults.

There is also considerable evidence of low levels of disability awareness among NHS staff, inadequate healthcare treatmentii and access barriers to health services.iii

We call on all political parties to commit to eliminating health inequalities faced by Disabled People by 2025. This is a challenging target but one that can be achieved if the will is there to do so.

We also call on all political parties to commit to ensuring that Disabled People are able to access NHS services on an equal basis as everyone else. This can be achieved as part of a wider improvement programme – particularly in primary care, where many people face difficulty accessing services because of restricted opening times and procedures.

We also call on all political parties to commit to ensuring that mental health services are given equal priority to physical health services in the NHS.

We also call on all political parties to guarantee to close, within the first year of the next Parliament, the remaining hospitals in England where People with Learning Difficulties are still being sent, despite promises to end the practice in the wake of the Winterbourne View abuse scandal.

If you want to read the full manifesto, please visit our Disability Manifesto page.

i Equality and Human Rights Commission (2010) How Fair is Britain, Equality, Human Rights and Good Relations in 2010’, Chapter 6; Review of Mental Health and Learning Disability (Northern Ireland) (2005) Equal Lives Review of Policy and Services for People with a Learning Disability in Northern Ireland, p. 29; NHS Health Scotland (2004) People with Learning Disabilities in Scotland: The Health Needs Assessment Report’;

ii Disability Rights Commission (2006) Equal Treatment – Closing the Gap. disability-studies.leeds.ac.uk/files/library/DRC-Health-FI-main.pdf

iii Disability Rights Commission (2006) ‘Equal Treatment: Closing the Gap’; Redley M et al (2012) ‘Healthcare for men and women with learning disabilities: understanding inequalities in access’, Disability and Society, Vol. 27, No. 6: 747–759; BMA (2014) ‘Recognising the importance of physical health in mental health and intellectual disability’.

Other Methods to Follow what SPECTRUM Thinks & Does


SPECTRUM uses a variety of Social Media platforms to communicate with, including:

FaceBook: https://www.facebook.com/SPECTRUM.CIL/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SPECTRUMCIL

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/spectrum-cil-42965ba5/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/southamptoncil

Why not try out all these different flavours of SPECTRUM!

Email Sig

Baroness Jane Campbell and Sian Vasey Discuss SPECTRUM CIL’s Disability Manifesto 2017

SPECTRUM Centre for Independent Living was delighted to welcome Baroness Jane Campbell, a cross bench peer in the House of Lords and Sian Vasey, a Disabled film maker, to Southampton to discuss all things Independent Living related with our Chief Executive, Ian Loynes. They covered a wide range of topics from employment to welfare reform, not forgetting Brexit of course. You can watch highlights of their conversation below.

All of them agreed that none of the political parties were yet offering a comprehensive disability strategy that would enable Disabled People to enjoy true equality within society.

If you want to read the full manifesto, please visit our Disability Manifesto page.




Summary of ‘Disability Manifesto’ now available


With the General Election just a week away, many people are still deciding on who they are going to vote for. The election campaign has been dominated by issues such as social care and welfare reform, although sadly the horrific terrorist attack in Manchester has focused everyone’s minds on the issue of safety and security.

Our ‘Disability Manifesto’ which sets out what Disabled People would like political parties to commit to doing in the next Parliament, has been a great success. We are aware that it is a fairly long document so we have summarised the key commitments for each topic area into a short document so people can see at a glance what Disabled People want the political parties to sign up to.

We hope this summary document will be easier for some people to access. We will also be tweeting out the key commitments between now and the big day as well as releasing a video with some very special guests discussing our manifesto so keep an eye on our blog and Facebook page over the next few days.

If you want to read the full manifesto, please visit our Disability Manifesto page

The Importance of Accessible Information


In a (we suspect welcome!) respite from the General Election, SPECTRUM’s CEO, Ian Loynes, was at an event yesterday, concerning how we can help more User-Led Organisations (ULO) to flourish – we got onto the subject of the importance of accessible information

Actually, it is relevant to the General Election, simply because the main political parties are notoriously BAD at being able to produce their Manifestos in accessible formats!!

Anyway, back to the subject of this article. One of the key objectives of a ULO (such as SPECTRUM!) is to enable Disabled People to become empowered and make the world work for them. Now – we all know that knowledge is power; we also know that knowledge is much more difficult to gain without information.

At the ULO event we talked about producing accessible information. I said that SPECTRUM has its own accessible information standards that all staff are expected to follow for all information that we produce.

SPECTRUM’s access standards have been developed through 30+ years of working with Disabled People

One of the presenters asked me to share our standards with them. (Thank you Barod CIC from Wales)

And in that conversation was born the idea for this article.

WHY don’t we share our access standards with other organisations and people like yourself? That way we can encourage other organisations to think about how they can improve the accessibility of printed information

So, here it is: SPECTRUM’s Accessible Information Standards which are part of every staff induction process. We hope you find it interesting and stimulates you to think about how you can improve the accessibility of what you produce.

It is really an internal document, designed to help SPECTRUM ensure its staff and volunteers understand the importance of accessible information.

SPECTRUM’s Access Standards

SPECTRUM sets high standards for itself, providing accessible, inclusive and empowering services to all Disabled People. Information is of key importance in delivering these standards, and therefore SPECTRUM requires that information produced by the organisation must be available in a range of different accessible formats, to ensure that no Disabled Person is denied access to our services or information due to their impairment. All staff are required to abide by the access standards, as set out in this document at all times. Our access standards are an important part of SPECTRUM’s identity.

Standard Printed Information

To aid general accessibility, SPECTRUM’s policy standard is that all printed materials must be produced in a font size of at least 14, in a ‘san-serif’ font (for example Arial, Calibri or Comic Sans).

Text should generally be left-justified to aid accessibility. Where practical, a font size of 16 should be used as this is considered ‘large-print’ and will therefore be accessible to more people. Font sizes of less than 14 should not be used unless there are exceptional circumstances and with the agreement of your Line Manager.

Terms such as ‘Disabled People’, ‘Older People’ and ‘Independent Living’ should always have their first letters capitalised. These are political terms indicating ownership and should be respected in the same way we capitalise people’s names.

Abbreviations should be avoided whenever possible, and in all cases they should only be used when they are fully expanded the first time they are used in every document (for example HCC [Hampshire County Council]). The use of abbreviations will exclude anyone who does not understand what they mean, and they often make documents more difficult to read.

Care should be given to ensure that there is a high level of contrast between text colour and background/paper colour. Text overlaid on images or designs should be avoided at all times.

Avoid the use of CAPITAL LETTERS FOR HEADINGS. Strings of capital letters can be more difficult to read for visually impaired people, and in any case can give the impression you are shouting at your reader.

Care should also be given to avoid the unnecessary use of jargon and complex words which make information less accessible. Please examine what you write and consider if any of the words you use are not in common use, or could be substituted for simpler words. SPECTRUM encourages the use of ‘Plain English’ throughout its published information.

Whilst it may not realistic for all documents to be proof-read, please take care to ensure all official reports, leaflets and other formal documents which represent SPECTRUM and its views are proof-read by someone with these skills before distributing.

Other Accessible Formats

SPECTRUM has a policy of pro-actively assessing what other accessible formats might be required in particular circumstances. Common accessible formats include: Large Print, Easy Read, Audio Format, Braille and Easy Read.

General information (for example leaflets and booklets) produced by SPECTRUM should be quickly and willingly converted to these or other specifically requested formats on request. Depending on the nature and purpose of the information, it may be appropriate to have stocks of different formats available ‘off-the-shelf’.

Information to be used at meetings should be available in the following formats: Standard Print, Large Print, Audio Tape and Braille, unless the organiser is sure of who is attending and their access needs.

Accessible Meetings/Events

SPECTRUM requires that all meetings and events it organises are accessible to all. This will include using British Sign Language at any public meeting. Specific guidance and checklists are available from your Line Manager or the Office Manager on request.

Access Standards and SPECTRUM’s reputation

Please remember that SPECTRUM’s reputation for inclusion and accessibility are only as good as the working practices of our staff and volunteers. It is the responsibility of all staff to take care at all times to ensure everything we do and everything we produce is done with the intention of being as inclusive and accessible as possible.

SPECTRUM recognises that, in practice, there will be occasions when we unintentionally exclude individuals because we have failed to meet their access needs.

When this happens, it is very important that SPECTRUM accepts responsibility for the failure, even if we had no way of pre-empting the need in advance. In no circumstances should we imply that the individual who we have excluded is in any way to blame.

Staff involved should ensure that, when these situations occur, every effort is made to resolve the access issue. If it is not possible to resolve it on the spot, staff should discuss with the individual what actions SPECTRUM needs to take to meet the individual’s needs now, or after the event to avoid making the same mistake in the future.

In the event of access failures, staff should make every effort to ensure that SPECTRUM, as a whole, learns from the experience. Often the best way to do this is to report incidents to the Chief Executive who will be responsible for ensuring guidelines are modified appropriately. Whatever you do, do not try to hide the failure – it is only by being open and sharing the experience that SPECTRUM will learn and improve.

We hope this article has been useful.