James Brokenshire met with a number of guide dog owners from Bexley at the Guide Dogs Access All Areas lobby to find out about their experiences and what more can be done to encourage more people to accept guide dogs into their businesses.
The lobby, held in Westminster Hall in the Houses of Parliament, was attended by more than 100 guide dog owners, giving them the opportunity to outline their experiences to Members of Parliament and their staff.
The Access All Areas campaign aims to address the way in which many guide dog owners describe being refused entry to shops, restaurants and taxis, which provide a vital transport solution for people with visual impairment.
The Government has taken action by underlining in guidance issued to taxi and private hire vehicle drivers, the duty of drivers to carry assistance dogs at no additional charge or face a fine on conviction of up to £1,000 under the Equality Act 2010.
Commenting at the lobby day in Westminster Hall, James said:
“Guide dogs are a vital lifeline for those with visual impairments, helping them to get around and to live full and independent lives. It is therefore important that we encourage shops, restaurants and other businesses to permit them entry.”
“It is perhaps even more important that guide dog owners are able to use taxi services as a means of getting around, either for social reasons or as a means of accessing employment and I support the way in which the Government continues to encourage the taxi industry to allow dogs into their cars at no additional cost”.