Charities call on supermarkets to suspend delivery charges for the ‘extremely vulnerable’
Leading charities urge CEOs of supermarkets to suspend delivery charges for people vulnerable to COVID.
A group of more than 20 UK charities have written a joint letter to the bosses of the UK’s largest supermarkets, asking retailers to suspend delivery charges for the extremely vulnerable from COVID, who have been asked to stay at home.
Accessing priority slots has also been problematic for those shielding, with extremely vulnerable people struggling to book a weekly slot at supermarkets where they have not been a regular shopper.
People who are clinically vulnerable and shielding have little choice but to shop online and pay delivery charges, which can be as much as £7 and minimum spend limits, which can be as much as £40, or risk going to the supermarket.
In previous lockdowns, some supermarkets waived these extra charges but as restrictions started to lift, the charges were brought back. The charities are asking supermarkets to help whose customers who are most at risk, by suspending delivery charges for priority delivery slots, and taking steps to reduce minimum spends.
Organised by older people’s charity Independent Age, the charities represent millions of disabled people, people with long-term conditions, people in later life, carers and others who are clinically vulnerable to Covid or who face severe challenges shopping safely.
The charities are particularly concerned about people at risk who are also on lower incomes, for whom delivery charges or minimum spends represent a disproportionately high cost, putting some people in real financial difficulties.
The charities – including Macmillan, Alzheimer’s Society, Scope, and Carers UK –have written to six major supermarkets, as well as online grocery group Ocado.
In the letter to the chief executives of Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Iceland, Waitrose and Ocado, the charities wrote: “We are particularly concerned about people at risk who are also on lower incomes, for whom delivery charges or minimum spends represent a disproportionately high cost. We believe it is unfair to ask these customers to stay at home to protect the NHS, and yet also have to take a financial hit just to access food.”
The letter concluded: “We believe that supermarkets waiving delivery charges and reducing minimum basket spend for those who have priority shopping slots would make an enormous contribution to the financial position and wellbeing of thousands of people.”
Deborah Alsina, chief executive of Independent Age, said: “No one at risk should be financially penalised for following the official advice to stay home. We know that free deliveries made a huge difference to people in the previous lockdown. We urge supermarkets to step up again and suspend the charges for people who are confined to their homes at this difficult time.”
What support can you get with shopping?
If you are extremely vulnerable to COVID, or know someone who is, you can register at Gov.uk yourself or on their behalf for support from the local authority and for access to priority slots at supermarkets.