Law change demands equal treatment for disabled taxi users

From 6 April 2017 it will be illegal for taxi drivers to discriminate against wheelchair users.

Taxi drivers face a fine of up to £1,000 if they refuse to transport wheelchair users or attempt to charge them extra, in a change to the law announced by UK government Transport Minister Andrew Jones.

From 6 April 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
  • charge wheelchair users the same as non-wheelchair users

Transport Minister Andrew Jones said: "We want to build a country that works for everyone, and part of that is ensuring disabled people have the same access to services and opportunities as anyone else - including when it comes to travel. People who use wheelchairs 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 £1,000 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.

The UK government will be consulting on a draft 'Accessibility action plan' later this year, which will seek to address the barriers faced by disabled people in accessing all modes of public transport.