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Inhospitality: Are Bars and Restaurants Failing the Disabled?

Inhospitality: Are Bars and Restaurants Failing the Disabled?

What is the duty of care that bars and restaurants have to their customers who have disabilities? Many bars and restaurants are unable to adequately meet the needs of disabled patrons. An investigation by BBC researchers for the Panorama programme last year, found many establishments’ provision for the disabled ranged from poor to non-existent.


Profit and Loss

A report commissioned by Scope and the Extra Costs Commission has estimated that UK businesses lose an estimated £1.5bn a year through not properly catering for the needs of  their customers with disabilities. Much of this is down to poor service and lack of disability awareness.

“This should come as an incentive for bars and restaurants”, comments Paul Green, director of Versatile Lift Company, in Haydock, St Helens.  “Putting the right disabled access provision in place is going to give you an advantage over the competition”.

“Adding yet more weight to this issue, a House of Lords Select Committee has called for premises that fail to provide adequate disabled facilities to be closed down, through local authorities being given the power to withdraw licences”, Paul continues.

There is now both an incentive and a threat for businesses to provide the right kind of facilities for disabled customers.


The Right Kind of Disabled Access

Paul explains, “What the Panorama research found was that many places had made certain provision but it was either inadequate or had fallen into disuse. There were even instances of disabled toilets being used for storage”.


“There has to be a proper level of commitment to provisioning for customers with disabilities. Clearly, just paying lip service will not do. I have seen instances where restaurants have lifts installed but they’re the wrong kind of lift or not properly maintained”

Paul Green, Versatile Life Company


The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has issued specific regulations for lifting equipment in places covered by the Health and Safety at Work act. The Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations (LOLER) state that all lifting equipment should be “Strong, stable and suitable for the proposed use”

This comes down to duty of care. People with disabilities need to have the confidence to be able to use the facilities on offer.

“There are two key things for bars and restaurants to consider”, concludes Paul.  “One is to make their premises more inclusive, and in doing so, increasing business.  The other is to ensure that they meet their obligations in providing disabled access that is fit for purpose“.

If you are a bar or restaurant owner/manager who would like to further enable your customers, who have disabilities, to use your facilities with confidence, please call Versatile Lift Company on 0800 028 1972 or visit