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People with Disabilities: Changing Facilities

Volume 631: debated on Thursday 23 November 2017

10. What steps the Government are taking to ensure that changing facilities are available in toilets for people with disabilities. (902534)

The Government recognise that the provision of changing facilities is an important issue for people whose needs are not met by standard public lavatories. We have worked with Mencap and the Changing Places campaign to improve provision. In particular, we have provided funds for a searchable application to enable people to find their nearest Changing Places lavatories.

I thank Changing Places for the work that it has done to improve facilities throughout the country, and I thank local campaigners for approaching me. They are right to campaign for more suitable facilities in areas of leisure such as football stadiums where people can be changed with dignity and in safety. Will the Minister outline further Government support?

Owing to the campaigning of my hon. Friend and other organisations, since 2007 the number of Changing Places lavatories has increased from 140 to more than 1,000, but there are still not enough. I remind those in charge of all public buildings, and all buildings in which services are provided, that they have a duty under the Equality Act 2010 to make reasonable adjustments to ensure that changing places can be installed.

As chair of the all-party parliamentary group for disability, I hear repeated distressing stories about disabled children being changed on toilet floors owing to lack of provision. That is unacceptable, and also degrading, in today’s society. Will the Government consider putting Changing Places toilets on a statutory footing?

Under the Equality Act, there is already a requirement to make reasonable adjustments to ensure that changing places are provided. Other alterations would have to be made in building regulations. We are currently undertaking a building regulations review, and I do not wish to prejudge its conclusions, but let me highlight the extent of the problem. Only nine train stations out of a total of 2,500, only 12 motorway service stations out of nearly 100 and only 50 out of nearly 500 shopping centres have changing places. That is simply not good enough.