Millions of disabled people are struggling to access vital local services, work and other opportunities because of a lack of wheelchair accessible taxis.
A nationally representative survey by the charity Leonard Cheshire revealed the stark impact lack of availability was having on disabled people’s daily lives, particularly for those in rural locations.
Almost two-thirds of disabled people surveyed – equivalent to eight million of the estimated 14.6 million disabled people in the UK – told the charity they could not always access taxis or PHVs when they needed them.
Worryingly one in 10, said they could never access taxis or PHVs when they needed them.
With taxis often the preferred choice for many disabled people, not being able to get one could make the difference between socialising with friends, being able to make a healthcare appointment or attending a job interview.
“As a wheelchair user I have experienced my own challenges, but chairing the steering group for this research has opened my eyes to the barriers disabled people with different impairments face,” said Joshua Reeves BEM, Campaigns Support Officer at Leonard Cheshire.
“We need more disability confident taxi companies so disabled people can have a balanced social life and get from A to B. I’m fed up of being told that accessible taxis are only used for hospital and school pickups, with many being cut off in the evening. Sadly, it seems disabled people are perceived not to go out at night!”
But the research shows that availability isn’t the only issue. Almost half (48%) of those surveyed – equivalent to seven million disabled people – revealed they had experienced some form of discrimination and stigma from taxi/PHV drivers or operators, suggesting the problem is widespread.
Launched this week in the House of Commons, the research, funded and supported by Motability the charity, explores how possibilities for accessible taxis and PHVs can be opened up.
The charity is also calling for mandatory disability awareness training for taxi and PHV staff to help address some of the negative experiences disabled customers have had. Currently, only about half of local authorities require drivers to undertake training on how to support disabled customers.
You can read the full report here: https://www.leonardcheshire.org/sites/default/files/2023-01/Driving-Change.pdf