Today is the day that disabled people have been waiting for – section 165 and 167 of the Equality Act 2010 are officially commenced, offering new protection to disabled people travelling in a taxi.
The changes have been long campaigned for. We at Trailblazers, alongside our Ambassadors, have called for the commencement of sections 165 and 167 in our End of the Line report. The change in law brings three key new protections to disabled people in England and Wales. This means that taxi and private hire vehicle drivers will be obliged by law to:
- Transport wheelchair users in their wheelchair
- Provide passengers in wheelchairs with appropriate assistance; and
- Charge wheelchair users the same as non-wheelchair users
Any drivers who do not follow these rules and don’t have a medical exemption will face a possible £1,000 fine.
Transport Minister Andrew Jones said:
We are committed to building transport networks that work for everyone, ensuring that disabled people have the same access to services and opportunities to travel as anyone else. Disabled people are often heavily reliant on taxis and private hire vehicles and this change to the law will mean fair and equal treatment for all.
The new rules will apply in England, Wales and Scotland affecting vehicles that are designated as wheelchair accessible and will apply to both taxis and private hire vehicles. All taxis in London and a significant number in most major urban centres are wheelchair accessible.
In a change to the law drivers found to be discriminating against wheelchair users face fines of up to £1000 as part of provisions being enacted from the Equality Act. Drivers may also face having their taxi or Private Hire Vehicle (PHV) licence suspended or revoked by their licencing authority. Drivers unable to provide assistance for medical reasons will be able to apply to their licensing authority for an exemption from the new requirements.
It is hoped that these new requirements on taxi and private hire vehicles will complement the rules already in place to prevent discrimination against the use of assistance dogs and underline Government’s wide-ranging commitment to supporting transport networks for everyone.
Robert Meadowcroft, Chief Executive of Muscular Dystrophy UK, said:
This is a victory for all people with disabilities who experience daily struggles with accessible transport.
Being able to get from A to B is usually very easy for most people, however we know that this can be a challenge that affects a disabled person’s entire life, including their ability to have a job and play an active part in society. This is a positive and very welcome step in the right direction which we hope will not affect the number of accessible taxis being made available by companies because of the duties now being placed on to drivers.
Muscular Dystrophy UK and our Trailblazers have been campaigning on this issue for many years, and we commend the government for listening to the views of disabled people.
Trailblazers Campaigns Officer Michaela Hollywood said:
We are delighted that the date has been set for commencement of sections 165 and 167 of the Equality Act 2010. Wheelchair users have been faced with higher costs and the possibility of refusal for too long.
At Trailblazers we have championed the need for the commencement of these regulations since the Equality Act 2010 came into force. These requirements will offer protection to disabled people, for whom money is tight and who often struggle to get from A to B, and will offer a financially viable alternative to other modes of transport.
However, this announcement does not apply to disabled people in Scotland or Northern Ireland, where protection from discrimination still comes from the Disability Discrimination Act 1995. We believe that Northern Ireland and Scotland must now look to provide similar legislative protections to disabled people living and working there, so they are not disadvantaged compared to their peers in England and Wales.