Toilets For Severely Disabled People Made Compulsory In Every New Building In England

At least 250,000 people in the UK are unable to use standard accessible toilets.

New buildings in England will be required to include toilets which have been specially adapted to meet the needs of severely disabled people, ministers have confirmed.

According to the Changing Places campaign, at least 250,000 people in the UK are unable to use standard accessible toilets because they do not have changing benches or hoists and are often too small to accommodate carers.

Campaigners say this means some disabled people feel restricted about leaving their homes – or that they often have to lie down on a dirty bathroom floor.

Changing Places campaigners have called this “dangerous, unhygienic and undignified”.

A government consultation found that there were around 1,300 specially adapted Changing Places toilets in the UK in 2019, up from 140 in 2007.

However, charities say there are still not enough of these facilities in public places.

On Sunday, the government announced that the inclusion of Changing Places toilets would be compulsory in public buildings with a capacity of more than 350 people from January.

Housing minister Lord Greenhalgh said: “For too long, the lack of changing places toilets has meant that severely disabled people have faced severe difficulties in attending public places.

“We are making the installation of these toilets compulsory in hundreds of new public buildings in years to come to help bring major, life-enhancing freedoms to the more than 250,000 people who need them.”

On top of the changes to building legislation, more funding will be made available to install Changing Places toilets at 37 motorway service stations.

Muscular Dystrophy UK have been at the forefront of the campaign for more Changing Places toilets for years, and have welcomed the announcement which came on Changing Places Awareness Day.

Rob Burley, director of campaigns, care and support at Muscular Dystrophy UK, said: “This is huge news for the quarter of a million people in the UK who need Changing Places toilets. Having access to these much-needed facilities increases independence and improves quality of life.

“The changes to legislation will make it easier for disabled people and their families to enjoy activities that many take for granted, whether that’s a day at a shopping centre or attending a concert. And the funding for the motorway service stations means people can travel knowing a facility will be available en route.

“None of this would have been possible without the hard work of our wonderful campaigners. Thanks to everyone working together, we have taken a big step towards ensuring Changing Places toilets will be more widely available to everyone who needs them and to tackling the exclusion people face.”

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James Taylor, executive director of strategy, impact and social change at disability equality charity Scope, said: “This is welcome news for many disabled people and their families, whose needs are too often forgotten.

“Changing Places toilets are currently few and far between, making going out and about incredibly difficult and stressful for disabled people who rely on them.

“Too often we see new buildings created that are inaccessible, which is frustrating for disabled people, and a missed opportunity to make our society more inclusive. Building accessibility in from the start makes it much easier to design buildings that everyone can use.

“However while this is a step in the right direction, these changes won’t address the current lack of Changing Places toilets. We want to see more and more of these facilities being installed in public and private buildings, so disabled people are no longer shut out from our society.”


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