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Discrimination against disabled people and problems with debt

Banks and utility companies can’t discriminate against disabled customers.

If you are experiencing debt problems, please read this page for more information about illegal disability discrimination by service providers.

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Are you a victim of unlawful discrimination?

The Equality Act 2010 is the law that says you can’t be discriminated. It is illegal to discriminate against anyone who is in violation of the Equality Act. You can also take legal action at the civil courts.

Who can discriminate against you, but not you?

Creditors are people you owe money. Your creditor can be a utility company, bank or debt collection agency. They have an obligation not to discriminate against your under the Equality Act.

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Do you have protection against discrimination?

You’re protected from discrimination if you are disabled and meet the criteria in the Equality Act. It could also be illegal discrimination if you are treated unfairly due to your disability.

Take into consideration your disability

The Equality Act requires service providers to take into consideration your disability when they deal with you as a client. They may need to adapt their business practices to ensure you are not discriminated against because of your disability. Disability discrimination could occur if you have been made to feel less because of your disability.

What constitutes unlawful discrimination?

If you are disabled because of a disability, service providers must make reasonable adjustments. It’s illegal discrimination if they fail to do so.

You may also be considered unlawful discrimination if the service provider treats you unfairly due to your disability. For example, if you are unable to read small print, or have difficulty understanding or communicating things.

This is known as discrimination arising out of disability.

You can complain about discrimination if a service provider does not make reasonable adjustments.

Other types of illegal disability discrimination exist, such as:

  • direct discrimination
  • indirect discrimination
  • Harassment
  • Communication problems

Service providers have to communicate with you in a reasonable manner if you are disabled. This includes email, textphone, or BSL. This could include allowing someone to contact you on your behalf, or taking extra time explaining something to you.

  • Service providers must make sure that their information is accessible, for example in large print or Braille.
  • It could be illegal disability discrimination if they do not follow this rule and you are left with a disadvantage.
  • These are some situations in which you might be able complain about discrimination based on disability:

You didn’t know how much or how much you owed

You’re in debt because your service provider encouraged that you sign up for a product or service without fully explaining it to you.

Because of your disability, it is difficult for you to reach a creditor to discuss your debt.

A creditor may refuse to speak to you if they call on your behalf, even though they have your authority.

Collection of debt

When attempting to collect your debt, a debt collection agency must take into consideration your disability if they have passed your debt to them. If they fail to do so and you are left with a disadvantage, this could be discrimination. You can challenge the decision under the Equality Act.

Your creditor should inform the debt collector if they know about your disability. Even if they haven’t been informed that you are disabled, they should take reasonable steps in order to find out.

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Take action

You may be eligible to apply if you have been discriminated against

You can complain to your service provider about discrimination against you that is in violation of the Equality Act

In court, you can make a discrimination case

If the service provider takes your case about your debt, you can claim that you have been discriminated against.

You are being harassed or owed money by a creditor, collection agency, or other person.

There are other laws that protect you from being harassed by debt collectors or people you owe money.

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  • Additional useful information
  • Equality Advisory Support Service, (EASS).
  • The (EASS) Discrimination Helpline can help you if you’ve been discriminated against.
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