Fair By Design and the Money Advice Trust have today launched two new practical guides for regulators and firms on how to embed inclusive design in policy development and product design, to significantly improve outcomes for consumers.

Inclusive design is the practice of designing markets, products and services to ensure they are accessible to, and usable by, as many people as possible. However, until now, there has not been a well-developed understanding across essential services, such as energy credit, and insurance, of what inclusive design means in practice. This new guidance aims to fill this gap by helping translate inclusive design principles into practice.

Improving outcomes for consumers in vulnerable circumstances

Inclusive Design in Essential Services: A guide for regulators has been published following increasing focus from regulators (such as the Financial Conduct Authority, Ofgem and the Competitions and Market Authority) on the need for inclusive product and service design.

The guide explores how inclusive design will help regulators achieve their objectives – particularly improving outcomes for consumers in vulnerable circumstances, including those on low incomes.

Translating inclusive design into practice

Alongside the new guide for regulators, Fair By Design and the Money Advice Trust have produced a guide for organisations working in the credit, energy and insurance sectors. Inclusive Design in Essential Services: A practical guide for firms and suppliers  provides practical steps and examples to support firms – from the point of starting out in the design process through to launching the end product.

By providing regulators and firms with the tools to implement inclusive design approaches, Fair By Design and the Money Advice Trust hope to build upon recent progress on the treatment of consumers in vulnerable circumstances.

These guides are part of a wider joint project of research and work on inclusive design. Their aim is to help organisations deliver improved products and services that meet the needs of more consumers, tackling long-standing issues such as the poverty premium and financial exclusion.

Martin Coppack, Director of Fair By Design, said:
“Real people’s lives are messy and don’t fit neatly into the remits of regulators and government departments. By starting with people where they are, and co-designing with them, the best solutions can be found. This is inclusive design at its best.

“Fair By Design and Money Advice Trust’s offer is to work with you so people can get the essential products and services they need at a price they can afford. “We look forward to engaging with stakeholders throughout the year.”

Joanna Elson CBE, Chief Executive of the Money Advice Trust, said:
“Job loss, ill health and a whole range of other circumstances can affect any of us at any time and the Coronavirus pandemic has brought this into even sharper focus. The problem is that too many services and products that we all rely on have been designed to be ‘one size fits all’ – often leaving people in vulnerable circumstances worse off.

“Inclusive design can reduce the chances of this happening by ensuring products, services and markets are designed to work well for all consumers.

“Regulators and firms have been making good progress on improving support for vulnerable customers – and there is a growing focus on improvements that can be made further ‘upstream’ in the product design process.  We hope our new guidance will help firms in this important area.”