A new law protecting disabled taxi passengers from being overcharged still does not apply across most of Scotland as councils have failed to make the right preparations, according to recent research.
So far, seven of 32 Scottish councils have created Section 167 lists, which are needed to hold taxi drivers to account if they discriminate against disabled passengers.
A change in the Equality Act enacted in April last year means that taxi drivers face a fine of up to £1,000 if they refuse to transport wheelchair users or attempt to charge them extra. But the rules only apply to vehicles on Section 167 lists, which councils need to create. The government-recommended deadline for this was October 2017.
The research, carried out by disability activist Doug Paulley, highlights the problems around the law change, with many councils confused as to their obligations and the public unsure of their rights. No-one outside of London has attempted to use the law to hold taxi drivers to account for overcharging, ignoring or otherwise discriminating against disabled taxi passengers.
Mr Paulley and Muscular Dystrophy UK are calling for the Department for Transport to make the lists mandatory, arguing that the current system is unworkable. Research by the organisation in 2016 indicated that a quarter of disabled people have been refused service by a taxi driver, purely because they are disabled.
Mr Paulley said: “While some councils have made an effort to create a list, many have fallen foul of the complex fine print in the rules. We need to see a stronger lead from the Department for Transport if disabled people are to get the tools they need to challenge overcharging and unsafe practices.”