Subject: Disability Discrimination Act 1995, Part III Compliance making reasonable adjustments to premises.

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1 1 Customer Focus GO3, Town Hall Report of : Executive Member(s) for Communities Meeting of Date Agenda Item Ward(s) Executive 5/09/02 C5 All Delete as appropriate Non-exempt Subject: Disability Discrimination Act 1995, Part III Compliance making reasonable adjustments to premises. 1. Synopsis 1.1 The Council strives to be a leading example of equalities good practice both within the borough and amongst local authorities. We are strongly committed to ensuring that all our customers receive fair and equal access to our services and, as part of this, that our services are accessible to disabled people. We can report that very good progress has been made in achieving this aim. As an example of this, we have taken very early steps to anticipate forthcoming changes arising from the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA). From 1 st October 2004, the Act requires service providers to make reasonable adjustments in relation to the physical features of premises (offering services to the public) to overcome barriers to access. Planning for 1 st October 2004 is already well in hand. This report provides an update on progress made so far; makes proposals for spend in this financial year and requests endorsement of that proposed expenditure. 1.2 We have audited a first tranche of buildings to assess the level of access for disabled people and we have provided significant funding to enable a programme of building alterations to be carried out this year. In addition to this, we are in the process of commissioning a second phase of building access audits to provide a complete picture of all the Council s buildings from which services are provided. 1.3 Whilst service providers are not obliged to comply with the duty to remove, alter or provide a reasonable means of avoiding a physical feature before to 1 October 2004, a Code of Practice was issued way in advance of this date to give service providers an

2 opportunity to consider the adjustments that they need to make under these provisions. The period between issue of the Code and 1 October 2004 is intended to be a transitional period during which service providers can prepare for their new obligations. It is recommended good practice to take action to remove or alter a physical feature or to provide a reasonable means of avoiding it before October In considering whether or not a service provider has taken reasonable steps to comply with its duties after 1 October 2004, a court might take into account the time the service provider has had prior to that date to make preparations. 1.4 Our aspiration to ensure inclusiveness by removing barriers to using our services is our major driver to ensuring we make changes. We want to ensure our services are accessible first and foremost to deliver our goal to ensure customers receive fair and equal access to services. We have taken early steps to prepare for 1 October The context within which we are taking this forward is by no means static. Changes in the way in which we might deliver our services through for example the e-government and customer focus strategies and our asset management strategy have been and will continue to be kept firmly in mind. Our approach to preparing for 1 st October 2004 has been systematic, through: building audits; identification of physical changes required for compliance; confirmation that the services will continue to be delivered in the building(s) concerned; and consideration of whether services can be delivered in an alternative, equally effective way Recommendations I recommend Members: Welcome the excellent progress made in implementing the requirements of the DDA part III; Agree that the following proposed criteria for making reasonable adjustments be used in determining which buildings from the initial phase of audits be given greatest priority: Those buildings with a greater number of visitors; and/or Those which display the most public face; and/or Those which are most likely to be used by large numbers of people with a disability Agree that a number of high priority changes arising from the recommendations of the initial phase of audits be made to buildings in 2002/03. An indicative list of these follows: The flagship buildings of the Town Hall and the Municipal Offices; The Central library; The following buildings used by Social Services (audited in Phase 1); Vorley Road (Archway CCC); 56 Calshot Street (Calshot CCC); 68 Halliford Street (Canonbury CCC); Drayton Park (Drayton CCC); Beaumont Rise (Elthorne CCC); 292 Essex Road (Children and Families); 1 Lowther Road (Islington Learning Disabilities Partnership); 299 Hornsey Road (Multicultural resource centre). The Education building in Laycock street;

3 3 A housing office (possibly Central street). Agree that as Members have recently endorsed the establishment of an Assets Management Group, the DDA programme will be taken forward within the context of that group. That way the Council can ensure that a fully joined up, strategic approach is maintained. Agree that the indicative list above and the general accommodation position be kept under continuous review to take into account any new plans for disposals and that the list therefore needs to be subject to the Director Customer Focus, in conjunction with the Assets Management Group, to vary as appropriate. Note that a further report will be produced once the second phase of building audits have been completed in autumn this year. 1. Background 1.1 Our approach to providing services has been, and will continue to be, to ensure an inclusive approach, removing barriers to services wherever it is possible to do so. The detail below sets out forthcoming changes brought about by the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA). Our existing inclusive approach, in advance of any legal changes, leads the way and places us in an excellent position to respond to forthcoming compliance issues. 1.2 The DDA places a duty on service providers to ensure access to services for all. From 1 st October 2004, the Act requires service providers to make reasonable adjustments in relation to the physical features of premises (offering services to the public) to overcome barriers to access. In early 2002 the Secretary of State approved changes to this part of the legislation and the final Code of practice under-pinning the Act was published. 1.3 Where a physical feature makes it impossible or unreasonably difficult for disabled people to make use of any service which is offered to the public, a service provider must take reasonable steps to: Remove or alter the feature; Alter it so that it no longer has that effect; or Provide a reasonable means of avoiding the feature; or Provide a reasonable alternative method of making the service available to disabled people. The first three duties above come into force from 1 October 2004, the fourth duty has been in force since October The Code of Practice stresses the importance of adopting an inclusive approach and that it is in the interests of both service providers and disabled people to overcome physical features that prevent or limit disabled people from using the services that are offered. Although the Act does not place the different options for overcoming a

4 physical feature in any form of hierarchy, it is recognised good practice for a service provider to consider first whether a physical feature which creates a barrier for disabled people can be removed or altered. 1.5 This is because removing or altering the barriers created by a physical feature is an inclusive approach to adjustments. It makes the services available to everyone in the same way. In contrast, an alternative method of service offers disabled people a different form of service than is provided for non-disabled people. Removing or altering the barriers created by a physical feature will also be preferable to any alternative arrangements from the standpoint of the dignity of disabled people. In addition, it is likely to be in the long-term interests of the service provider, since it will avoid the ongoing costs of providing services by alternative means and may expand the customer base. 1.6 The Code recommends that service providers should first consider whether any physical features which create a barrier for disabled people can be removed or altered. If that is not reasonable, a service provider should then consider providing a reasonable means of avoiding the physical feature. If that is also not reasonable, the service provider should then consider providing a reasonable alternative method of making the service available to disabled people. Through our ongoing established plan of auditing all our buildings we can ensure we continue to achieve our goal of giving all our customers equal access to services. 4 Buildings Being Audited 1.7 The list of premises in relation to Islington Council contains a potential 170+ buildings (excluding schools). They vary in size and the extent to which the DDA will apply because of the variance in public access. 1.8 Physical alterations to schools are not required under the reasonable adjustments duty as it is anticipated that these will be achieved through a strategic approach to improving access through the planning duty requirements set out for LEAs. These require LEAs to draw up accessibility strategies and for schools to draw up accessibility plans to improve access to schools over time. 1.9 In July 2001, the Equalities Steering Group agreed: Due to funding constraints, that the audit of council buildings with public access would be carried out in two phases and that; The first phase of audits would cover about 40 buildings in total This approach was endorsed by Members (Partnership Committee in November 01) who asked for a further report upon completion of the entire phase 1 survey programme. Funding of 468k for 2002/03 was allocated for Phase 2 audits and Phase 1 building changes via Policy Committee on 26 th February Discussion

5 5 2.1 The first phase of audits has now been carried out by consultants with specialist expertise in this field. They surveyed all 40 buildings against a detailed checklist covering all aspects of the building and external approach covered by the act. They have produced a report that summarises all items and gives an overview of two categories of work (High and Low priority) and related costs. High priority items. 2.2 The DDA requires the enabling of access to the services made available in buildings. In some cases it will be essential to get into a building in order to access a service and where this is the case the consultant has categorised as High priority any works that are required to avoid the services being impossible or unreasonably difficult to use. High priority items recommended in the audit include such things as principal/alternative entrances, receptions, horizontal circulation, internal doors, lifts, wc facilities and signage and communications. In the light of the high priority items identified it is for the Council to judge whether the service might be accessed in some alternative, reasonable and sensible way (e.g. outreach work) and to consider carefully the revenue cost of this, against the capital cost of the adjustments. Low priority items. 2.3 Works assessed by the consultant as low priority are desirable features that, even without them, would not make it impossible or unreasonably difficult to access a building but all the same would assist access. Low priority items include such things as kickplates for doors, painting doors in contrasting colours to walls, replacing grabrails etc. I am confident that these less critical items can be built into service repair and maintenance programmes and addressed over time. 2.4 The total estimated costs of high priority works identified ( 981k) in Phase 1 audits is greater than the 2002/03 funding. These costs exclude fees and on-costs, which the Architects department estimates to be up to a maximum of 15% of the building costs. The costs are estimates and, therefore, actual costs may mean a slight revision to plan. I will be in a better position to judge this once departments commission works. 2.5 It is now necessary to programme and commission surveys on the rest of the council s premises which include the following: the remainder of the Social Services buildings; Housing premises (up to 40 mainly small buildings tenants meeting halls etc.); Education buildings (excluding schools); Leisure buildings and Play and Youth buildings. We estimate that the cost of the remaining audits amounts to circa 110k, leaving 358k for building works (from Phase 1 audits). Funding availability 2.6 Our anticipated 2002/03 expenditure profile (very much a rough estimate at this stage) for the 468k is as follows: Quarter Activity 1 Analysis of Phase 1 overview report (building costs) (works +fees/on-costs)

6 6 2 Completion of Phase 2 audits 0 110,000 Some smaller works will start 31,304 36,000 3 Improvement works 140, ,000 4 Improvement works 140, , , The intention, currently, is to spend all of the 468k in this financial year, but this is subject to lead-in time for getting contractors to carry out works. The Architects department will be advising on this further. Prioritising the improvement works 2.8 As the total costs (para 2.4) of high priority works identified from the Phase 1 surveys is greater than the 358k ( 468k minus 110k) available in this financial year, we have identified a number of criteria that will assist in prioritising which works should be completed first. They are, as follows: Disposals 2.9 Funding for Phase 1 audits was provided by the Accommodation and Facilities manager and buildings were audited as part of the wider buildings Asset Management Strategy and included DDA requirements. Some of the buildings audited have since been identified for disposal, or possible disposal and will therefore not require DDA changes. The costs of adaptation to meet the DDA requirements are one of the factors taken into account when considering future council use and location of services. Usage of buildings 2.10 We only need to consider the public areas of buildings. (Part III of the DDA does not cover access for disabled employees. Access issues for staff are dealt with by reasonable adjustments on an individual basis.) I recommend that the following types of building be given the greatest priority: those which display the most public face; those with a greater number of visitors; those most likely to be used by large numbers of people with a disability. Flagship sites 2.11 There is an argument for attending first to those buildings which display the most public face of the council i.e the Town Hall and the Municipal Offices where members of the public come for public meetings etc. Moreover, if we can get a number of key buildings completely up to scratch on the high priority items, officers and service users

7 7 from all over the borough can, in the short term, make use of these facilities, until such time as local facilities are fully accessible. I recommend that all high priority works on these two flagship buildings be done. High number of visitors 2.12 In relation to this criterion, I think that there is a particular case to be made for libraries, both in terms of their potential usage by all sections of the community and their importance in relation to the council s learning strategies. Central library has, by far, the largest numbers of users so I recommend this be included in the first wave of building improvements. Buildings used by large numbers of people with disabilities 2.13 An obvious priority is those buildings where, by nature of the service, a high number of members of the public using the building are likely to have a disability. For this reason, I recommend that a number of Social Services buildings be done in Phase 1 of the alterations. Disruption 2.14 Departments whose services are provided from the buildings in question will need to take into account their plans for carrying out other building works to ensure, wherever possible, that works required for DDA purposes, can be combined with other works. Once Members have approved the way forward, funding to carry out alterations will be released to departments to manage the works, in conjunction with their existing works programmes. Contract packaging and value for money 2.15 The auditors have identified a number of issues that are common to the majority of buildings. The most cost-effective way of dealing with some of these will be to package them up into individual contracts and carry out across-the-board works in a number of buildings. First among these might be a package of the high priority items for principal/alternative entrances, receptions, horizontal circulation, internal doors, wc facilities and signage and communications. We have termed these essentials. Taking this approach will provide some comparatively quick wins. Parking and approach to buildings 2.16 The auditors have identified lack of parking for disabled people at most locations and several instances of cracked and uneven pavements or obstacles on the highway. Environment and Conservation department will be studying the audits and planning action to address these issues in a wider context, taking into account other service priorities. Once the volume of work to be done has been assessed, an action plan will be drawn up to progress issues.

8 8 Options 2.17 There are a high number of different packages which could be put together to spend the 358k. However, taking into account the criteria explored above, we have identified the following approach: Higher priority 15% Total costs Islington Town Hall 59, 400 8,910 68,310 Municipal Offices 8,225 1,234 9,459 Central Library 38,370 5,756 44,126 All (Phase 1) SS buildings 105,910 15, ,797 Laycock Street 34, ,526 A housing office (possibly Central Street) 23,050 3,458 26, ,325 40, , The list of buildings shown is an indicative list, arising from the first phase of audits, from which high priority works will be done. However, the position will need to be kept under continuous review to take into account any new plans for disposals. Therefore, it needs to be subject to officers to vary as appropriate. Members recently agreed to the establishment of an Assets Management Group and the DDA programme could be taken forward within the context of that group. That way we can ensure that a strategic approach is maintained. 3. Implications 3.1 Finance Implications Capital funding of 468k has already been allocated for 2002/03 via Policy Committee (26/2/02). This report explores spending it as follows - 110k for the remainder of the building audits (Phase 2) and 358k to be spent on improvement works on those building prioritised from Phase Legal Implications The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 makes it unlawful for the Council as a service provider to discriminate against disabled people in certain circumstances. The duties on service providers have been introduced in three stages: since 2 December 1996, it has been unlawful for service providers to treat disabled people less favourably for a reason related to their disability from 1 October 1999, service providers have had to make reasonable adjustments for disabled people, e.g. providing extra help or making changes to the way in which services are provided as from 1 October 2004, service providers will also have to make reasonable adjustments to the physical features of premises to overcome physical barriers to access.

9 9 3.3 Equality Implications Research from various sources shows that between 10 and 12 % of the Islington population are likely to be disabled. Using the borough s current total population estimate of 177,500, this equates to a potential user group of around 20,000 people. However, the improved accessibility to council buildings will also benefit the wider community. Implementing the proposals set out in this paper will enable the Council to meet its continued goal of ensuring services are inclusive. It will also enable us to partially meet DDA Part III compliance responsibilities (set out at para 3.2). A second phase of building audits and either/or alterations and revised service delivery arrangements will be needed to fully comply with the DDA. It is intended to bring a further report on this to Members later this year. 4. Conclusion and Reasons for Recommendation The reasons for recommendation of particular buildings are explored in the body of the report. We want to ensure access to services for all and we need to continue taking steps now in order to be ready for October Background papers: Disability Discrimination Act 1995 Reports to Equalities Steering Group and Capital Working Group Final Report Clearance Signed by Executive Member for Communities Date Received by Head of Scrutiny and Democratic Services Date Report author : Angela Homsy, Head of Equalities Tel : Fax :

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