The Government has published proposals to make toilets that are accessible for disabled people compulsory in all new or refurbished public buildings.
The proposals, which went out for consultation yesterday, are expected to add Changing Places toilets to more than 150 new buildings a year, including shopping centres, supermarkets, cinemas, stadiums and arts venues.
These toilets are accessible for severely disabled people, with equipment such as hoists, curtains, adult-sized changing benches and enough space for carers. There are over 1,300 in the UK, up from just 140 in 2007.
‘Everyone should have the freedom to enjoy days out in dignity and comfort. For severely disabled people, this is made very difficult because there are not enough Changing Places toilets,’ said the local government minister, Rishi Sunak.
‘We’ve made some progress, but I’m determined to increase the number of these life-enhancing facilities, so people are given the dignity they deserve.’
Catherine Woodhead, chief executive of Muscular Dystrophy UK, which co-chairs the Changing Places Consortium, described the proposals as ‘hugely encouraging’.
‘People living with disabilities go to work, visit shops and enjoy days out with friends just like everyone else. But a lack of Changing Places toilets make these seemingly simple tasks a challenge.
‘Too often, we hear stories of people not leaving their homes, having to be changed on dirty toilet floors or even having surgery because there are not enough facilities.
‘The Government’s consultation on making Changing Places toilets mandatory in new, large public buildings is hugely encouraging.
‘Along with our fantastic campaigners, we have long pushed for changes to legislation, and now we are one step closer to that being reality.’