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Close restaurants with no disabled access, says House of Lords

By Sophie Witts , 29-Mar-2016
Last updated on 29-Mar-2016 at 17:56 GMT2016-03-29T17:56:43Z

Thinkstock/Dorling Kindersley
Thinkstock/Dorling Kindersley

Restaurants and pubs which fail to provide facilities for disabled customers should be closed down, a House of Lords Select Committee has claimed.

According to a major new report in to the lives of disabled people, eating out remains an ‘unnecessary challenge’ with ‘too many’ businesses still failing to provide basic facilities such as disabled toilets.

Local authorities should be handed powers to refuse to grant or renew the licenses of businesses which are difficult to access, the study said.

The ‘Equality Act 2010: The Impact on Disabled People’ report also found evidence of restaurants using accessible toilets for storage – potentially risking legal action.

It is estimated that pubs, hotels and restaurants lose an estimated £1.8bn a month by ignoring the needs of disabled customers.

Baroness Deech, chairman of the Select Committee behind the report, said: "Over the course of our inquiry we have been struck by how disabled people are let down across the whole spectrum of life.

“It’s time to reverse the attitude that disabled people are an afterthought.”

Slow improvement

The findings indicate that the hospitality industry still has a long way to go to improve access for disabled customers.

In 2014 a government audit of more than 30,000 businesses found that 40 per cent of restaurants do not have an accessible toilet.

Only 15 per cent of restaurants and shops had hearing loops, and three quarters of restaurants did not cater for people with visual impairments.

Last year a study by the Business Disability Forum found that 3.6m people walked out of pubs, clubs and restaurants because staff were unable to meet their needs.

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