It was fantastic to meet Guide Dogs in Parliament to raise awareness for the Access All Areas campaign.
Guide Dogs has helped raise awareness of people with assistance dogs being refused access to restaurants, shops and taxis. The Guide Dogs 2015 ‘Access All Areas’ report highlighted that almost half of assistance dog owners surveyed said that they had been refused access to services in the previous year.
Channel 4 news ran a fantastic piece on the issue recently which you can watch here:
The Equalities Act, passed by the last Labour Government introduced a number of legal protections, including placing duty on taxi and private hire drivers to carry guide and other assistance dogs at no additional cost. It is therefore a criminal offence to refuse carriage to a guide, or assistance dog.
The House of Lords’ Select Committee on the Equality Act 2010 and Disability Committee was appointed on 11 June 2015 to consider the impact of the Equality Act 2010 on people with disabilities. The Committee published its final report on 24 March 2016. On the enforcement of taxi provisions by licensing authorities, the Committee endorsed the recommendation, made by the Law Commission in May 2014, that the Government should require holders of taxi and private hire driver licences and dispatcher licences to comply with the Equality Act 2010 as a condition of the licence.
The Select Committee also recommended that all local authorities should exercise their powers of persuasion and coercion so that no drivers are licensed unless they have had disability awareness training, and no taxis are licensed unless they are wheelchair accessible. Where the driver or operator fails to comply with the Equality Act, the Committee believes local authorities should be prepared to take action. I completely agree but unfortunately the Government has not yet responded to this report.