Thank you for contacting me about assistance dog owners and taxis.
I know that taxis and private hire vehicles (PHV) are essential for many disabled people, and drivers are required to make reasonable adjustments for disabled passengers. The Equality Act 2010 places duties on taxi and private hire vehicle (PHV) drivers to carry assistance dogs at no additional charge. The Department for Transport has issued guidance to the licensed trade on the provisions in the Equality Act that require taxis and private hire vehicles to carry guide and other assistance dogs.
Failure to comply with this requirement can result in prosecution and a fine on conviction of up to £1,000. A driver was recently fined £1,546 for refusing access to a guide dog; that figure included legal costs as well as the fine. I think this sends a strong message right across the industry, and I hope my ministerial colleagues will draw it to the attention of licensing authorities.
Although there is no legal requirement for taxi and private hire vehicle drivers to undertake disability awareness training, the Department for Transport’s Best Practice Guidance on taxi and private hire vehicle licensing recommends that local licensing authorities to work with the industry in their area to improve drivers’ awareness of the needs of disabled people. This includes encouraging their drivers to undertake disability awareness training.
I am pleased to hear that Guide Dogs is raising awareness of this important issue and will do my best to drop by the planned lobby in Westminster Hall, parliamentary business on the day permitting.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.