Disability rights campaigners have criticised the overly complex legislation around accessible transport laws in a recent address to the Common transport committee. Disability News Service reports that the legal experts and campaigners gave evidence as part of the ongoing enquiry into the current issues with the accessible transport system. 

Although rules exist to protect disabled transport users from discrimination, the reality is that in many cases these rules are not enforced, and the process of challenging providers is unnecessarily opaque and complicated. It is also difficult for disabled people to seek legal advice because only a handful of solicitors have the correct knowledge.

Professor Anna Lawson, a law professor at the University of Leeds, said: “Accessibility doesn’t have a high enough profile, and in other countries there is more of an effort being made to really foreground the importance of accessibility as an issue.”

Campaigner Doug Paully added that much of the legislation is out of date, and was put in place a quarter of a century ago. The rules are inconsistent across different types of transport and there are no straightforward methods of enforcing them. This makes it difficult to know who to make a complaint to and to understand when rules have been breached. 

He said: “[After a dodgy takeaway] Then you can speak to the local environmental health people, who will go and inspect and take whatever action and keep you anonymous, and they have a duty to deal with it.”

“But if you’re discriminated against [on transport] then the only way to enforce is either to take legal action yourself, or complain, or try and get a regulator to use their discretion to enforce.”

Caroline Stickland, chief executive of Transport for All (TfA), called for a much more transparent and proactive approach to accessible transport rules and enforcement from government bodies. 

She said: “Issues such as individuals having to take claims under the [Equality Act], individuals having to make complaints, individuals really having that burden of trying to enforce the law to remove those barriers ourselves, is really not the right way around.”

Meanwhile, disability rights campaigners have used the 10th anniversary of Personal Independence Payments (PIP) to highlight what they consider to be a flawed system. The MS Society reports that the system of assessment for eligiblity the benefit is particularly unfair to MS patients, who often experience fluctuating systems that can relapse and recur.

This can result in an assessment report that is not a fair and accurate assessment of the patient’s condition, and may mean that thousands of people are not given the financial support that they need or deserve during a very difficult time. 

Campaigners attended Parliament recently to hand in a petition and hold a drop in session for MPs to learn more about the problems that many disabled have with the PIP assessment process. The Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said that the issue would be taken up by the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. 
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