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Disabled access: clubs 'hampered' by age of stadiums

Football clubs have responded to calls for better disabled access by stressing the difficulty of improving "historic" stadiums.

Minister of State for Disabled People Mike Penning said that in many clubs the level of support and space for disabled people was breaking the law.

But Chelsea Football Club said "like many other clubs with older grounds we are hampered with the age and layout of Stamford Bridge", adding that they were consulting architects on possible improvements.

Chelsea's Stamford bridge holds only 47% of the number of wheelchair space required. Credit: PA

Fulham, another club to fall short of the levels required, said they accommodate "as many wheelchair users as possible within the confines of an historic stadium", and that a proposed redevelopment would help improve the situation.

Lack of disabled access at stadiums 'illegal'

The level of access for disabled people in may football stadiums is illegal, the Minister of State for Disabled People has said.

Mike Penning has called for a "complete overhaul of grounds and of how disabled fans are supported".

Last month it was revealed that only three premier league stadiums provide the number of wheelchair spaces required.


'Woeful' access for disabled people at football stadiums

There is a "woeful" lack of appropriate support and space for disabled spectators at many football stadiums across the country, the Minister of State for Disabled People has said.

Fulham's Craven Cottage stadium has only 24% of the number of wheelchair spaces required, the lowest out of any Premier League club. Credit: ITN

Mike Penning has written to every professional club in the country to remind them of their legal obligations.

Football clubs are required by law to provide adequate room and adjustments for disabled fans.

Paralympic champion: 'We need to educate people'

More needs to be done if barriers are to be completely broken for disabled people living in Britain, according to a Paralympics winner.

Swimmer Sascha Kindred, six-time Paralympic champion explained:

I experienced quite a lot of name calling back in school, but I always had my twin brother there to support me so it seemed easier to deal with.

I definitely believe attitudes have changed since then as when I go back to schools now to speak about my experiences as a disabled athlete, the children are genuinely interested and I know a lot of other kids with disabilities have increased opportunities and facilities compared to my time at school.

I still think we need to educate people further though as this will continue to increase awareness of the challenges people with a disability face.

– Six-time Paralympic champion Sascha Kindred

'49%' of disabled feel ignored by potential employer

Almost half of the disabled people who took part in a survey on changing attitudes towards disability said they had faced discrimination while out shopping.

According to Scope's Disability in Britain: Then and Now:

  • Half of disabled people (49%) report having experienced discrimination in shops.
  • Some 31% report such behaviour when attending leisure activities, such as cinemas and theatres.
  • However, this was an improvement on the previous 20 years. In 1994, 85% of disabled people looking for work felt employers were reluctant to hire them because of their impairment.
  • Another 34% of disabled people had been turned away from or refused a service in a public place

Public attitudes towards disability lagging behind

Disabled people are still being held back by poor attitudes towards their impairment, a leading charity has found.

Those with disabilities are just as capable as everyone else, Scope said Credit: PA

A report published by Scope found 42% of disabled people told Scope that they had lost out on a job because of the way employers perceived their impairment “every time” or “a lot of the time”.

The charity said despite advancements in law and public awareness, disabled people still felt isolated and held back by some who were discriminatory or outright abusive towards them.

Chair of Scope, Alice Maynard explained: "But many still see such disabled people as the heroic exception and public understanding of what disability is, and the challenges disabled people face on a daily basis, is limited.

"This means that, in 2014, disabled people’s everyday lives are tougher than they need to be."


Penning: 'Government wanted to end Atos contract'

Government had been looking for a way to end the contract with Atos but was waiting for a way to get out of the deal without losing the taxpayer money said Department for Work and Pensions minister Mike Penning.

Mr Penning said that if the DWP had sacked Atos "we would have had to have paid millions of pounds in compensation to them. I've had to work with them to actually say we want you to leave, they've announced that they wanted to leave.

"But I didn't want a gap and I wanted a quality and I wanted the backlog sorted out that we've negotiated and done and of course there'll be a large contribution to the tax payer."

Atos 'remains committed to delivering services'

We are pleased to have reached an agreement with the Government to allow us to exit this contract early and we remain committed to delivering essential services to the UK Government as a strategic supplier.

Our team will work hard to support transition to a new provider and we believe that we have reached a settlement that is in the best interests of all parties. We have supported and been flexible in implementing all the changes asked of us from the reviews of the Work Capability Assessment process.

– Ursula Morgenstern, Atos CEO

In a statement Atos said it would: "continue to deliver the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) assessments in Scotland, north of England, London and south of England and to deliver Work Capability Assessments on behalf of the Department for Social Development in Northern Ireland."

Your views: Concerns over what comes after Atos

As Atos says it has ended its contract with the Government over controversial assessments of whether benefits claimants are fit to work, we asked you if you had been through an Atos assessment and what you felt now that the IT company will no longer be responsible for them.

  • Anne Elsdon: "Too little too late, they have caused far too much suffering to ill people."
  • Sarah-Jane Darbon-Tailby: "Yes I have and they have a lot to answer for. Have caused people a lot of stress and illness when people already suffering!"
  • Kaye Edwards: "I've had a ATOS assessment, but what worries me the most is who/what is going to take over now and are they going to be better/worse or same? It's all too worrying for those who have to go through these assessments yet!"
  • Irene Baldwin: "Best thing that's happened. They've caused so much heartache and distress to genuinely ill people. Glad to see them go hope the new company takes on board the short comings of ATOS."

You can join the conversation and tell us about your experiences on the ITV News Facebook page.

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