More than 60 per cent of outsourcing deals between local authorities and third-party suppliers happen without discussion of disability requirements, according to a study by the Business Disability Forum.
Many local authorities could be risking paying more to retrofit services or offices for accessibility which have been allowed to be delivered in a way that does not cater to disabled people.
A study entitled Disability-smart approaches to engaging suppliers and partners, conducted with businesses in the private and public sector, found that only one in four organisations review contracts with third-party suppliers to ensure they delivered on requirement for inclusion and accessibility while less than two in five reported having discussions with these suppliers about how they approach disability outside of formal processes.
The deals are worth £50 billion and affect functions ranging from HR and recruitment to facilities management and construction services.
Diane Lightfoot, chief executive officer at Business Disability Forum, said: “Local authorities continue to face shrinking budgets but they could be incurring a considerable additional expense through the way that they outsource services or parts of them.
“A significant proportion of the population in every local authority area in the country will have a disability or long-term health condition that could impact on their ability to access services. Ensuring that they can access services, then, can never be an afterthought: it has to be a central part of service design.
“Arrangements to procure outside suppliers for services are, unfortunately, where accessibility can be missed out – leading to legal risks and extra costs down the line in building accessibility measures in later.”