Disabled campaigners are calling on supermarkets to scrap their delivery charges, to help disabled people and others who have seen food costs rise sharply during the pandemic.
They are asking the chief executives of the seven supermarkets that have provided priority delivery slots during the crisis to drop any charges for delivering shopping and to slash the minimum amount customers have to spend on a delivery to £5.
The campaign is led by disabled Londoner Sandip Sodha, a member of the access group of the disabled people’s organisation (DPO) Action Disability Kensington and Chelsea, with a petition supported by Inclusion London.
Sodha (pictured) said that many disabled people “have no choice but to shop online because of the risk of the virus” and have limited income.
He said: “It’s all about supermarkets making reasonable adjustments for consumers. The [supermarket] giants should take note and adjust their actions accordingly.”
He added: “Many disabled people cannot get out of the house and shop on the high street and have no choice but to pay supermarket delivery charges.
“In some cases, people have to make an unenviable choice of heating the home or putting food on the table. Others are being pushed into debt.”
The campaign is directed at Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Iceland, Waitrose and Ocado, the supermarkets that provided priority delivery slots during the crisis.
Jon Abrams, Inclusion London’s campaigns and justice coordinator, said: “The pandemic has been challenging for disabled people.
“Many are struggling to make ends meet and pay the week’s shopping bill.
“Disabled people tell us that they often don’t spend enough on food each week to reach the minimum spend limit.
“And for those in poverty, the extra delivery charge is a real burden, forcing some to choose between heating and eating.
“Supermarkets can make a big difference to the lives of disabled people by scrapping delivery charges and reducing the minimum spend to £5.”
Claire Glasman, from WinVisible, which supports and campaigns for disabled women, said: “Well done to Sandip Sodha and the other campaigners on this.
“Supermarkets have profited from the surge in online ordering and never had to close.
“They can afford to remove delivery charges and reduce minimum spend – charges which are making life harder for sick and disabled people, low-income single mums and families, including people of colour facing multiple discrimination.”
Only last week, the Commons environment, food and rural affairs committee pointed out that the government had directed shoppers towards the supermarkets during this year’s lockdown, rather than reintroducing the food parcel scheme.
In its report on food insecurity during the pandemic, the committee said that “if the Government is directing custom towards supermarkets, it should be publicly asking them to accommodate the needs of the Clinically Extremely Vulnerable (CEV), elderly and disabled people”.
It said the supermarkets could do this “by lowering minimum spends and removing delivery charges for CEV customers”.
A spokesperson for the British Retail Consortium (BRC) said there was “no single view” among its members on whether they would consider reducing their minimum spend and scrapping delivery charges.
Andrew Opie, BRC’s director of food and sustainability, said in a statement: “Retailers have been working tirelessly since the start of the pandemic to support all their vulnerable customers.
“Supermarkets have greatly expanded their delivery capacity, and doubled down on priority slots to ensure as many people as possible have online access to the goods they need.
“Many have provided support for delivery fees, and some have removed the fees altogether.
“Firms have also introduced alternative measures to help these groups, such as dedicated shopping hours, and volunteer voucher schemes.
“Furthermore, the safety measures put in place – from perspex screens to social distancing to additional hygiene measures – mean that everyone can shop safely in-store if they wish.”
A note from the editor:
Please consider making a voluntary financial contribution to support the work of DNS and allow it to continue producing independent, carefully-researched news stories that focus on the lives and rights of disabled people and their user-led organisations.
Please do not contribute if you cannot afford to do so, and please note that DNS is not a charity. It is run and owned by disabled journalist John Pring and has been from its launch in April 2009.
Thank you for anything you can do to support the work of DNS…