Businesses respond to stalled Disability Equality Training Bill
As the Disability Equality Training Bill has come to a standstill in parliament, we spoke to Bascule and Driver Periodic Training to get their take.
The bill sought to make the "completion of disability equality training a requirement for the licensing of taxi and private hire vehicle drivers in England and Wales", but has not progressed since it was first brought forward for debate in 2016.
As the bill continues to stall we spoke to Chris Jay, the managing director of Bascule and David Hirst, the managing director of Driver Periodic Training.
Chris Jay said: “For many people with disabilities, taxis and private hire cars are essential, as other alternative modes of transport are either incredibly challenging or inaccessible.
"For example, only 71 of the 270 tube stations across London are accessible, meaning taxis are vital for disabled people travelling in our capital.
"Given that so many people with disabilities rely on this mode of transport, it is a great disappointment that the Disability Equality Training (taxi and private hire vehicle drivers) Bill remains at a standstill.
"In 2017, a change in law demanded equal treatment for disabled taxi users, whereby drivers can face a fine of up to £1,000 and even lose their license if they fail to transport passengers with a disability.
"This new requirement indicates that people with disabilities continue to experience daily struggles with accessible transport and, therefore, disability awareness training for drivers is certainly an immediate requirement."
David Hirst said: "As far as the taxi and private hire market is concerned, a few years back, the Law Commissioners did a big review of the taxi and private hire market across the country, which resulted in them producing a draft bill for parliament.
"A big item in the bill was that all drivers should undergo disability awareness training.
"Since their publication of their report to the Department for Transport, they have run a number of consultations around the various aspects of the industry, and in general, there has been an overwhelming view that training is required for all drivers, but the content should be decided by the Secretary of State. This latest report was published in February 2019.
"Interestingly, this has already had an effect on TfL private hire licensing in that TfL introduced a basic English language test for private hire drivers.
"This was initially challenged in the courts by Uber, who then withdrew the challenge.
"A date was set for April 19 but was then extended to September 2020, as one of the recommendations was an English test, but no standard was defined.
"TfL are also due to bring out a Disability Awareness test, to be run alongside their current computerised Topographical test – it will now be interesting to see if this is delayed, awaiting the Secretary of State to define requirements.
This maybe one of the reasons for the holdup – nobody is willing to define what actually is required."