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Accessibility – Gaining entrance to a win-win scenario

On 08/04/16 by Jack Shepherd (Policy and Information Officer)

Here at the BBPA, we are strong advocates of the great British pub. Pubs have an ‘important role to play in building communities and friendships’ and are enjoyed responsibly by millions of people throughout the UK on a regular basis, as well as being a key attraction to overseas visitors.

It is fair to say that everyone should be able to enjoy pubs equally. For many of us it is hard to imagine that our choice of pub should be limited by anything other than preference. With this in mind, the BBPA has worked in recent years to produce a comprehensive Accessibility Guide and further guidance to assist Pubs in writing an access statement. This is of great significance to those with access needs, whose options can be limited.

Accessibility does not end with physical access to the pub. It is about creating the best experience for everyone who visits. A lot of simple modifications can often be readily made and staff training is key. Staff need to have the confidence and knowledge to meet the needs of disabled customers and the current BBPA guidance outlines several further easy adjustments that can be made to improve access.

Accessibility is relevant to pub companies from a responsibility perspective but also in terms of enhanced business success. Over one quarter (27%) of the UK population have a long standing health problem. Attracting the business of someone with access needs also attracts the spend of their entire party and this can create a huge market for pubs. In fact, it equates to a £2 billion market that businesses are able to tap into with improved accessibility.

Beyond the economic benefits, pubs are obligated to provide a service with reasonable adjustments to accommodate someone with a disability. Discrimination against someone with a disability is against the law under the Equality Act 2010. Here in lies the key point. Improved accessibility provides a win-win scenario for all, with pubs gaining access to a significant market whilst everyone is able to enjoy the benefits that they provide.

Accessibility is an issue that is continually cited in the press, as illustrated recently following a House of Lords Select Committee report recommending local authority action against pubs that fail to comply with the Equality Act. The BBPA continues to work proactively to encourage pubs to be as accessible as possible. Jim Cathcart, Pub Operations Manager for the BBPA, recently attended a roundtable event chaired by the Minister for Disabled People and received positive feedback on past BBPA guidance. As a result, the BBPA is updating its current accessibility guidance, so we can build on this work.

In light of the guidance update, the BBPA is asking members for case studies of access-friendly businesses in their pub estates. We are particularly interested in case studies surrounding usage of ramps, hearing loops, accessible menus and availability of accessible toilets, although all case studies will be gratefully received. We feel that this is a key opportunity to highlight the positive work that the industry undertakes in relation to accessibility. Let’s shout louder about the contribution that our industry makes and let’s spread the message so that all of us can enjoy our nation’s pubs.

Please send any case studies to Jack Shepherd ( at the BBPA.


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