The government has today announced a new £30m fund to increase the number of Changing Places toilets in existing buildings across England.
Local authorities will soon be invited to ‘opt in’ to receive a proportion of the £30m funding, based on need, to install facilities in their communities.
This is a significant moment in Muscular Dystrophy UK’s role as Co-Chair of the Changing Places Consortium.
We have been working with the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) in recent months to help identify how best to direct the funding, which was first announced in the March 2020 budget, and how we can support local authorities once the funding has been distributed.
What are Changing Places toilets?
Changing Places toilets have more room than a standard accessible toilet, with specialist equipment such as an adult-sized changing bench and a hoist system.
They are needed by more than a quarter of a million people in the UK, including people with muscle-wasting conditions.
Without access to Changing Places toilets, many people feel forced to stay at home, will limit fluid intake, or will have to be changed on a dirty toilet floor.
What does today’s news mean?
The £30m investment means thousands of disabled people across England, including those with muscle-wasting conditions, will have greater access to public places.
The Changing Places facilities will be installed in locations such as leisure and sports facilities, cinemas, and arts and tourism venues.
It will improve the geographical spread of the toilets across England and ensure more disabled people can take part in everyday activities that have the greatest impact on their quality of life.
Today’s exciting announcement follows laws that came into effect in January this year, making Changing Places provisions compulsory in certain new buildings.
MP Luke Hall, Regional Growth Minister, said:
“For too long, the lack of suitable toilet facilities has meant disabled people have faced major difficulties when they shop, go out, or travel and this should not be the case.
“That’s why the provision of Changing Places toilets is so important for people who cannot use standard accessible toilets.
“This programme is a significant investment from government that will help bring major, life enhancing freedoms to those people who have specific needs.”
What do we think?
Robert Burley, Director of Campaigns, Care and Support at MDUK, said:
“Today’s announcement of £30m worth of funding to improve facilities in existing buildings is fantastic news for disabled people across England who need Changing Places toilets.
“Everyone has the right to use a public toilet when they need to, and these accessible toilets vastly improve a person’s independence and make planning days out much easier.
“This is a big step towards tackling the exclusion that many disabled people, including those with muscle-wasting conditions, experience when they are out and about.
“Today’s announcement would not have been achieved without everyone working together, and Muscular Dystrophy UK is particularly grateful to the hard work of our extraordinary campaigners and the members of the Changing Places Consortium.”
Kerry Thompson is one of MDUK’s fantastic Changing Places campaigners. She said:
“The biggest challenge I face when going anywhere outside my home is locating a Changing Places facility. They really do make a world of difference when planning days out so today’s announcement will open up a whole new world for the hundreds of thousands of people who rely on them.”
MDUK, in partnership with MHCLG and the Research Institute for Disabled Consumers, will also be undertaking the biggest consultation to date with Changing Places users in England.
This will help develop an understanding of user needs and priorities.
To register an interest in participating in our consultation or focus groups please email firstname.lastname@example.org