I have been contacted by a number of constituents regarding assistance dog owners being turned away by a taxi or minicab driver because of their dog.
I should say, first of all, that I share the concerns raised over the fact that assistance dog owners are being illegally turned away because of their dog – which knocks people’s confidence and stops them doing the everyday things that most people take for granted. Being refused and potentially left stranded can also be dangerous for passengers, especially in unfamiliar areas and at night.
The Equality Act 2010 made it illegal to refuse to carry an assistance dog in a taxi or private hire vehicle alongside its owner. I am proud that my party supported this Bill and brought its provisions on assistance dogs into force when we entered Government in 2010.
Drivers who break this law can be fined up to £1,000. However, it would be far better if the offence was not committed in the first place. I share the view that training should be given across the various transport sectors but it is equally important that the quality of this training is properly monitored.
I wrote to the Transport Minister, Nusrat Ghani MP, to put forward the concerns raised with me by constituents and I have now received a response, which you can view below. I am pleased that the Minister confirmed the Government’s intention to introduce National Minimum Standards including a requirement that drivers complete disability awareness training, and I will continue to monitor the Government’s progress on this.