It’s unbelievable but true: twenty years after the Equalities Act made it illegal to discriminate against disabled people in the provision of goods and services, the law preventing taxi and private hire vehicles from charging wheelchair users extra has never been brought into force.
But People First Keighley, a user-led group of people with a learning disability, is challenging this discrimination.
They’ve worked with MPs to get an EDM tabled to finally win equality for disabled minicab and taxi users. EDM 619 urges the Government to bring Section 165 of the Equalities Act into force. This section would force taxi and private hire vehicles (PHVs) to carry and assist wheelchair users without charging extra.
Email your MP to ask them to sign EDM 619
The EDM has already been signed by 57 MPs. Additionally, the Law Commission carried out a review last year of the taxi and private hire industry, and recommended that a Taxi Bill be introduced by the next Government in order to better regulate the industry. The Law Commission recommend bringing Section 165 into force, as well as introducing mandatory disability awareness training for all taxi and private hire drivers. They also recommend that licensing authorities should have the power to introduce a duty on taxis to stop when hailed, and that the Secretary of State should have the power to require large operators to meet a quotas of accessible vehicles.
The Equalities Act makes it illegal for a PHV or taxi driver to charge extra for carrying an assistance dog. However, while Section 165 places a duty on drivers to ‘carry the passenger while in the wheelchair….[and] not to make any additional charge for doing so’, it’s never been brought into force.
Here in London, guidance from Transport for London forbids taxi and PHV drivers from charging wheelchair users extra for assistance – although unfortunately not all minicab and taxi drivers abide by this, as Alan recounts in his blog. (If you have been overcharged for a taxi or minicab journey, please get in touch to complain and we will take this up with TfL’s Public Carriage Office).
There’s no good reason for the delay in mandating equal access to taxis and minicabs. In 2010, the then-Minister, Norman Baker, said that the delay in enforcing the law would allow time for drivers to apply for exemptions, if they had a health condition that meant they were not fit enough to assist wheelchair users. But five years later, and wheelchair users up and down the country report being overcharged (e.g. in Middlesborough; in Hull; in Wycombe; in Bradford). Many taxi and PHV drivers go out of their way to provide assistance to disabled passengers at no extra cost – but not yet all drivers. We believe that the law needs to protect wheelchair users so overcharging becomes a thing of the past.
Write to your MP and tell them that ending this discrimination is long overdue. Ask them to sign EDM 619 and support a taxi and minicab industry where disabled and older people are treated with the same respect as everyone else.
Personalising this as much as possible and drawing on your own experience will make your letter most effective. Not sure who your MP is? Type your postcode into http://writetothem.com to find out.
Dear (MP’s name)
I’m writing you to ask you to sign EDM 619, which calls on the Government to implement legislation that would prevent taxi and minicab drivers charging wheelchair users extra. Section 165 of the Equalities Act makes such discrimination illegal and passed into law back in 2010, but was never brought into force. Up and down the country, wheelchair users report having to pay extra simply to get out and about. This discrimination is wrong and needs to end.
Please sign EDM 619 and support equality for disabled taxi and cab users.