Guide Dog Owners: Enforcing Equalities Legislation

Thank you for contacting me about discrimination against guide dog owners.

I share your belief that everyone deserves the right to travel with comfort and dignity. That is why I value the use of guide dogs which gives people with disabilities the freedom and confidence to work and to lead independent lives. There are already, as you are aware, strict laws against discrimination against those who rely on guide dogs.

The Equality Act 2010 makes clear the duties of everyone not to hinder people with guide dogs from going about their lawful business in any way. Failure to comply with this requirement can result in prosecution and a fine on conviction of up to £1,000. People who use guide dogs currently enjoy the legal right to travel on public transport that other animals or pets are not allowed to use. This is absolutely right as it greatly widens the scope for independent living.

The use of guide dogs is further helped by the guidance which clarifies the rights of guide dog owners, and outlines the options available to those who have been discriminated against when using a guide dog. This includes the ability to report those who do not make reasonable adjustments to make a disabled person’s journey easier. Distinctive jackets for guide dogs to wear are issued to help clearly identity them. People with disabilities are advised to carry identification cards when possible to add further to the safeguards against unlawful discrimination.

I am afraid that my duties, including a series of Ministerial meetings, as a Government Whip meant that I was unable to attend the debate in Westminster Hall but I will continue to take a close interest in this issue and to support improvements and reforms when they are needed. I hope you and others will continue to tell me about your experiences and concerns either by contacting me again or by arranging an appointment at one of my surgeries, details on this website at https://www.craigwhittaker.org.uk/meet-your-mp

Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.

Craig Whittaker MP

September 2018