Assistance Animals: Discrimination

Women and Equalities written question – answered on 20th February 2019.

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Photo of The Marquess of Lothian The Marquess of Lothian Conservative

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have any plans to strengthen the Equality Act 2010 to prevent fully the discrimination against, and the exclusion of, people with assistance dogs, in the form of denial of access to taxis and minicabs, shops and restaurants by those without health-related exemption certificates.

Photo of Baroness Williams of Trafford Baroness Williams of Trafford The Minister of State, Home Department, Minister for Equalities (Department for International Development)

It is already illegal for taxi and Private Hire Vehicle drivers to refuse to carry an assistance dog or to charge their owner more for a journey. Local licensing authorities should ensure that drivers are aware of their duties, and that appropriate action, including prosecution, is taken where non-compliance is identified.

There is also already a legal duty for service providers to provide reasonable adjustments to disabled people so that they are not put at a significant disadvantage compared to non-disabled people, which may include allowing access for assistance dogs where animals would not normally be permitted.

The Office for Disability Issues has been facilitating the assistance dog sector to work together to look at access and supply issues, with a view to creating an accredited UK standard. This work is ongoing but if a standard can be achieved this should reduce the likelihood of access refusals.

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