Rother Valley MP says more must be done to eradicate discrimination against disabled people

Sir Kevin Barron MP
Sir Kevin Barron MP

A recent report by the charity Guide Dogs found that 75 per cent of all assistance dog owners had been refused access to a restaurant, shop or taxi because they had an assistance dog with them, writes Sir Kevin Barron MP.

According to the report, the most common example of refusal of access was for taxi or Private Hire Vehicle (PHV) services.

These statistics should concern us all and Guide Dogs has important work to highlight this issue.

The Equality Act 2010 provides a legal framework to protect people from discrim-ination.

Under the Act, service providers have to make reasonable adjustments for disabled people.

The legislation also made it a criminal offence for taxis and PHVs to refuse carriage to an assistance dog at no extra cost, unless the driver has a medical exemption.

I appreciate that refusals can have a devastating impact on the confidence and independence of disabled people.

I believe it is clear that there is still more to be done to end this shameful discrimination.

The Government recently published its Inclusive Transport Strategy, which recommends that local authorities require taxi and PHV drivers complete disability awareness and equality training.

I believe the Government must reform the legislation governing taxis and PHVs and introduce national standards for licensing, as issues such as disabled access should not be at the discretion of localities, varying across the country.

I also believe that licensing authorities should use their existing enforcement powers to take strong action where disability access refusals are reported.

More generally, I believe we must remove the barriers in society that restrict opportunities and choices for disabled people.