Citizens Advice has found that two in five (39% equal to 7.1 million) disabled people have had a problem with parcel delivery in a single week. This compares to just 27% of people who don’t identify as disabled.
This number jumps to just over half (51%) when looking at those in the shielded group, which includes those who are elderly, pregnant or have a long-term illness. These problems include parcels left in inaccessible places, delivery drivers not leaving enough time for people to answer the door, and goods not being delivered on time or at all.
Under lockdown, parcel deliveries have become a lifeline, with over half (51%) of people saying they are more reliant on parcels than before the coronavirus outbreak.
In addition to this, UK consumers are spending more online, with an average of £2.5 billion spent a week online in June, compared to £1.5 billion in February (a 62% increase).
Despite this increasing reliance, Citizens Advice has seen a 119% increase in people seeking help on parcel issues on its website since lockdown began in March.
Charlotte, a quadruple amputee who uses delivery services frequently, explains how more still needs to be done:
“I find it difficult to get to the shops so I’m reliant on home deliveries. I need more time to get to, and open, the door when I get a parcel delivered.
“I have a sign in my front door asking for deliveries and post to be taken to the side entrance as it’s more accessible. But nine times out of ten my sign is ignored and my parcels are left in places I cannot access.”
“I wish that I could let delivery companies know I have accessibility needs so I was given more time to get to the side door. And then that would mean my parcels were not left outside or left in unsuitable places. I don’t think they realise the emotional stress and upset of not receiving a parcel causes me, it makes me feel vulnerable and helpless.”
Last year, Citizens Advice called on delivery companies to improve parcel deliveries for disabled people. But with many disabled people belonging to the shielded group or relying even more on parcel deliveries due to Covid-19, ensuring that everyone has equal access to delivery services has become more important than ever.
Five UK parcel companies committed to finding a way to do this, including DHL Parcel, Hermes, DPD, Menzies, and Parcelly. They agreed to find a way to:
- Allow disabled people to specify their explicit accessibility needs and pass these onto the driver making the delivery. This could include allowing more time for drivers when delivering and leaving parcels in accessible locations that are easy to reach.
- Publish detailed accessibility information online so disabled people can choose where they can pick up and drop off parcels.
Many delivery companies, including some major players, have yet to sign the pledge meaning millions of deliveries remain inaccessible or don’t meet the needs of disabled consumers. Citizens Advice is urging all companies to commit fully to its pledge to make sure they’re giving all consumers equal access to this essential service.
Dame Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said:
“It’s hard to imagine how many of us would get through lockdown without getting parcels delivered. Over half of us say we’re more reliant on parcel deliveries than ever before.
“They’ve allowed us to send and receive gifts from families or friends to retain a sense of normality, and even helped businesses to stay afloat. But for many disabled consumers or for those previously shielding, parcel delivery has become a lifeline for accessing essential items.
“We’d like to see all parcel companies sign our pledge so they can deliver for everyone, regardless of their accessibility needs.”