8 Jun 2006 12:15 PM

A new code of practice from the Disability Rights Commission is laid before Parliament today for its consideration, giving guidance on the application of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA).

Anne McGuire, Minister for Disabled People, warmly welcomed the "clear advice and guidance" in the new code, saying:

"The Government believes that clear and accessible advice and guidance for those with rights and responsibilities under the DDA is important. The new Code gives practical guidance on the application of the Act, in relation to provisions of the Disability
Discrimination Act 2005 that come into force on 4 December 2006."

The Disability Rights Commission (DRC) has revised the existing guidance on the Disability Discrimination Act for providers of goods, services and facilities, to include the new duties on public authorities, landlords and private members clubs. It explains how to avoid unlawful acts of disability discrimination and provides practical guidance to landlords and tenants on the making of disability-related alterations to rented housing.

Subject to Parliament's approval of the draft code, the DRC proposes to issue and publish the revised code this summer, giving those with responsibilities under the DDA adequate time to consider it before the new duties come into force.

Subject to Parliamentary approval, the new code will come into force on 4 December 2006, replacing the existing code from that date.

Notes to editors:

1) The new Code of Practice - Rights of Access: services to the public, public authority functions, private clubs and premises, replaces the existing Code of Practice on Rights of Access, published in May 2002.

2) The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 2005 extended the DDA 1995, fulfilling the Government's commitment to extend rights for disabled people.

2) From 4 December 2006:

- The functions of public authorities not already covered by the DDA 1995 as services are to be brought within its scope.

- The duty of reasonable adjustment will be extended to those who let or manage rented premises, and to commonhold premises. But this does not include any duty on those who let or manage premises to adjust physical features of the dwelling itself.

- Landlords cannot unreasonably withhold consent to a request from a disabled tenant or occupier for a disability-related improvement to certain rented dwelling houses.

- The duty of reasonable adjustment will be extended to private members clubs with 25 or more members.

3) The DDA also enables:

* introduction of a duty on public authorities to promote equality of opportunity for disabled people;

* the transport exemption from Part 3 of the DDA 1995 to be lifted for different vehicles at different times and to differing extents;

* an "end date", of no later than 1 January 2020, to be set by which time all rail vehicles will have to meet accessibility regulations, those regulations to be applied to refurbishments and other measures on rail such as the introduction of compliance certification and decriminalisation of offences;

* reciprocity for disabled persons' parking badges issued in other countries; and

* the duty of reasonable adjustment to be extended to local authorities and the Greater London Authority in respect of their disabled members.

4) There are around 10 million people in Britain covered by the DDA. The DDA defines disability as a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on the ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.

5) There are 6.9 million disabled people of working age (16-59/64) in Great Britain accounting for nearly a fifth of the working age population; 50% of disabled people of working age are in work, compared to 81% of non-disabled people (the employment rate of all employees is 75%); the income of disabled people is, on average, less than half that of non-disabled people.

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