- Download report “Licensing authorities’ approach to the Equality Act 2010 provisions on taxi wheelchair discrimination”
- Download Data tables, statistics, charts and maps (XLSX format, 2Mb)
- Press release: 59 per cent of councils can’t enforce new law offering equality for disabled taxi users
A “new” law requiring taxi drivers not to discriminate against wheelchair users was commenced on 6th April 2017. Taxi drivers face £1,000 fines for refusing to take or help wheelchair users, or if they charge wheelchair users more. But the new law only takes effect if the local council has created a “designated list” of wheelchair accessible taxis.
Accessible taxis are an essential part of an inclusive society; especially given the extensive barriers disabled people face with other forms of transport.
The Department of Transport’s guidance states:
Section 167 of the Act (Equality Act 2010) permits, but does not require, LAs (Local Authorities) to maintain a designated list of wheelchair accessible taxis and PHVs (Private Hire Vehicles).
Whilst LAs are under no specific legal obligation to maintain a list under section 167, the Government recommends strongly that they do so. Without such a list the requirements of section 165 of the Act do not apply, and drivers may continue to refuse the carriage of wheelchair users, fail to provide them with assistance, or to charge them extra.
It recommends local authorities create their lists by October 2017.
I decided to find out what local authorities are planning to do in response to this. I submitted Freedom of Information requests to all 366 taxi licensing councils, and Transport for London (who administer taxi licensing on behalf of all the London boroughs.)
My report and data can be downloaded in full at the top of this page. It gives depressing results.
Only 41% of British taxi licensing authorities either have a list or have a plan to create one this financial year. It’s particularly bad in Scotland where only 25% are taking it up.
26% of authorities have actively decided not to work towards such a list at the moment.
In areas that don’t create a list, wheelchair users can continue to be overcharged. Even if they report it, the driver won’t face the legal penalty. Wheelchair users will continue to be disempowered.
It is disappointing that many councils are undermining the Government’s intent in bringing in this legislation, by their failure to undertake the required office work. Their inaction means that taxi drivers can continue to discriminate against wheelchair users with impunity.
In much of the UK, councils have no clear plan to implement the anti-discrimination law.
All is not lost.
Pressure and publicity from disabled people and their allies has already made some authorities decide to implement the law. For example, of the seven dissident councils contacted by the Disability News Service following my initial research results, five councils (Oldham, Epping Forest, Stratford-on-Avon, Suffolk Coastal, and Waveney councils) changed their policy.
If your council has yet to commit to implementing this anti-discrimination legislation, (you can check in my data tables above) contacting them may well cause them to change their tune. Your contact point would be the councillors for your area on the District or Unitary council, or your London Assembly member. You can use WriteToThem to identify and contact the relevant ones, by putting your postcode in this box:
Please use your own words, but you may wish to include some of the following points:
- Taxis are essential for disabled people’s quality of life, especially given the barriers disabled people experience with other forms of transport.
- Creating a list is a relatively minor bureaucratic procedure that sends a clear message that wheelchair users have the right to travel by taxi without discrimination.
- The Government’s Statutory Guidance strongly recommends councils produce a list, because “without such a list the requirements of section 165 of the Act do not apply, and drivers may continue to refuse the carriage of wheelchair users, fail to provide them with assistance, or to charge them extra.“
- The licensing body should create a list even if all taxis licensed by them are wheelchair accessible. Simply stating “all the taxis we license are wheelchair accessible” doesn’t have the desired effect of putting taxi drivers under a legal duty to take wheelchair users and not to charge extra for doing so.
- It is important to create a list even if there are very few accessible taxis. It is perhaps even more important that drivers of such taxis don’t discriminate against wheelchair users.
Fleur Perry has written a template letter which may be useful to inspire you in your message.
Additionally, you may choose to tweet your local council. Muscular Dystrophy UK suggest “Taxis are not a luxury for disabled people. Will you support the equality act and make your taxis accessible? #section167fail”