What does the 2020 Budget Announcement mean for Changing Places?

On 11th March 2020, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced Budget 2020. The policy paper outlines the government’s spending plans for the financial year ahead. In this budget announcement, there was a whole section dedicated to Changing Places.

This is brilliant news for everyone involved in the Changing Places campaign! Set up by the Changing Places Consortium in 2005, the campaign calls for inclusive toilet facilities to be installed in all large public places.

But what does the budget announcement actually mean for Changing Places? How will funding be distributed? Who is affected? What should those involved in designing and constructing public buildings be doing?

There are lots of questions being asked. Here are all the answers we have so far…

What was announced for Changing Places?

The full Budget 2020 is available to read on the government website. But there were two main points relating to Changing Places:

  1. £30 million Changing Places Fund will be launched to increase the provision of Changing Places toilets in existing public buildings.
  2. Building regulations will change by the end of 2020 to make Changing Places a legal requirement in all new public buildings.

How is the Changing Places Fund being allocated?

The government is working with the Changing Places Consortium to determine where the funding is most needed. Currently, no official statement has been made regarding how the £30 million funds will be distributed.

However, there is still funding available from the £2 million that the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) allocated to Changing Places installations in 2018. NHS acute hospital trusts in England can apply for capital by completing this form.

We will update this section as soon as more information is available about the Changing Places Fund.

The average cost of a Changing Places facility is around £15,000. So, these funds could see well over 1,000 new Changing Places installed across the UK!

The cost of a Changing Places installation includes all the specialist equipment, like a hoist system and changing bench

Which buildings are legally required to have Changing Places?

In Scotland, the Town and Country Planning Regulations have already been amended to include the new Changing Places requirements.

As of 18th May 2020, a Changing Places toilet must be included in the planning application for the following building developments:

  • School, college, or university
  • Community centre, sports and leisure centre, or similar public building
  • Hospital or other facilities for health services
  • Retail outlet
  • Cultural centre e.g. museum, concert venue, or art gallery
  • Stadium
  • Major transport terminus i.e. airports and large train stations
  • Motorway service station
  • Conference or exhibition centre
  • Restaurant or café
  • Pub or nightclub

Scottish charity, PAMIS, provide more details on the new regulations.

Across the rest of the UK, there haven’t been any official changes in legislation yet. But it is expected that new regulations will be like those in Scotland.

Information on any new policies and regulations will be published here when available.

Has Coronavirus affected Changing Places funding and legislation?

Shortly after the Budget 2020 announcement, the UK went into lockdown to help tackle the outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Understandably, the Chancellor has had to allocate emergency funds to health and social care services, businesses, and UK citizens.

Whilst it is likely that the focus on Coronavirus will delay the announcement of further details, there is no indication that the commitment to Changing Places will be affected long-term.

COVID-19 was already considered a global outbreak when the budget was first announced. Plus, Scotland’s decision to implement new regulations from May demonstrates the importance of Changing Places as part of the future of British infrastructure.

I work on public building projects. What should I be doing now?

On 10th May 2020, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that the government would start to gradually ease the UK lockdown. Many industries, including construction workers, were encouraged to return to work.

This means hundreds of public building projects that had been delayed or cut back on will be getting going again.

Get ahead of the regulation changes

Architects, contractors, and property developers working on commercial buildings should start including Changing Places in all plans and designs for public buildings.

New building regulations might not be in full effect yet, but it’s clear that the public increasingly expect venues and attractions to be inclusive and accessible.

This is a fantastic change that the industry should embrace. Disabled people and their families have been restricted by inadequate facilities for far too long.

Financial Benefits

Investing in a Changing Places facility now isn’t just the ethical thing to do, there are many financial benefits.

The Purple Pound – a term referring to the spending power of the disabled community – is worth approximately £249 billion. A lack of appropriate facilities is one of the leading reasons people with disabilities choose not to visit a venue. So, providing a Changing Places toilet can open the door to a whole new customer base.

Infographic from wearepurple.org.uk

December 2020 is the provisional deadline for Changing Places becoming a legal requirement in new public buildings. Even if this date is delayed due to Coronavirus, any buildings that choose not to include a Changing Place now will quickly fall below standard.

Having to go back and install a Changing Place later is often more expensive than just including one from the beginning. Additional building work will usually be required to ensure there’s space to fulfil the minimum size requirement for a Changing Place.

Next Steps

Whether you’re back on-site, in the office or working from home, here are some practical steps architects and contractors can take now to prepare for the incoming Changing Places regulations.

By taking time to understand the building standards, specialist equipment required, and differences between Changing Places and standard accessible toilets you’ll be one step ahead of competitors. You’ll be confident discussing Changing Places requirements with clients and able to plan, design, specify and install inclusive toilet facilities.

Helpful resources for architects and contractors

Changing Places Consultation

Everyone in the Innova team is thrilled by this announcement and the progress so far! We have worked on Changing Places projects for the last 10 years, installing over 100 facilities in that time.

If you need support and advice at any stage of a Changing Places project, please feel free to contact us. Our team of specialists will be more than happy to help.