Government announces potential plans to increase number of Changing Places toilets in England
The Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government, alongside Caroline Dinenage MP and Rishi Sunak MP, has announced new proposals to increase the number of Changing Places facilities for disabled people across England.
Building regulations guidance currently only recommends that Changing Places facilities are installed, but the Government is putting forward new proposals to ensure Changing Places toilets are a mandatory requirement in all new, large, publicly-accessible buildings and significant redevelopments.
Ministers have said they will launch a consultation in 2019 on proposals for the new requirement of the facilities in large buildings, which could include shopping centres, stadiums and theme parks.
Additionally, the Department of Health and Social Care has announced £2 million to install over 100 Changing Places toilets in NHS hospitals throughout England.
Local Government Minister Rishi Sunak MP said: “Changing Places toilets make a huge difference to the lives of severely disabled people. I want to see these facilities included as standard in new large buildings like shopping centres and cinemas, so more disabled people can be assured peace of mind and dignity when they are away from home.”
Although the number of Changing Places toilets has increased from 140 in 2007 to more than 1,200 currently, the Government wants to further improve the lives of disabled people.
Minister for Care Caroline Dinenage commented: “It is utterly shocking how few Changing Places toilets there are currently in NHS hospitals and other public spaces. People with disabilities and their carers rightly expect to find suitable facilities in a hospital of all places.
“A quarter of a million disabled people need Changing Places and this investment will mean many more of them can access a toilet safely and comfortably. Whilst this is something most of us take for granted, access to spaces like these make a big difference to the lives of disabled people and their carers.”
The Government has also provided £70,000 for an online map of the UK that helps carers and disabled people find Changing Places facilities.
Catherine Woodhead, Chief Executive of Muscular Dystrophy UK, which co-chairs the Changing Places Consortium, concluded: “Having access to Changing Places toilets increases independence and improves quality of life, and by investing in facilities we can tackle the exclusion many disabled people face on a daily basis.
“We, along with our wonderful campaigners, have long pushed for changes to legislation to make Changing Places toilets mandatory in new large public buildings and it’s fantastic that we are now one step closer to that reality.
“We look forward to working with the government and our campaigners to ensure that Changing Places toilets are available to everyone who needs them.”