Unscrupulous firms are giving bogus advice to businesses attempting to comply with the Disability Discrimination Act according to expert.

Cowboy builders are persuading businesses to undertake expensive and unnecessary work in order to comply with the Disability Discrimination Act.

In other cases companies are being given the wrong advice by firms that do not understand the implications of the Act, according to an expert on the legislation.

Roger Tilbrook director of chartered building surveyor PSK Prout Tilbrook said: “Unfortunately, we have knowledge of companies that are exploiting the situation for their own gain and others that provide misguided advice as they do not fully understand the implications of the Act themselves.”

Tilbrook says unscrupulous firms are taking advantage of the confusion surrounding the Act's requirement that physical barriers to the disabled be removed. Tilbrook said that the duty only applied to organisations defined as service providers to the public such as banks, shops, pubs and public offices. Changes were not required to parts of premises not accessed by the public.

Tilbrook said that the most commonly misunderstood issues about the DDA were whether alterations were necessary, the extent of work required and what is reasonable.

He said: “Many companies are being advised to spend more money than is actually required or could be considered reasonable. For instance, if a physical feature cannot be removed it may be altered, avoided or in the last resort the service can be provided in an alternative way.”

“Physical alterations are not always necessary said Tilbrook who said that he knew of companies that have been advised to fit an expensive new lift when all that was needed a call bell.”