What does the 2021 Budget Announcement mean for Changing Places?

On 3rd March 2021, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced Budget 2021. 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…

Updated: 12th March 2021

What was announced for Changing Places?

The full Budget 2021 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 available to increase the provision of Changing Places toilets in existing public buildings.
  2. Local authorities will soon be invited to “opt in” to receive a proportion of this funding, based on need, to install facilities in their communities.

This funding announcement follows the new building regulations introduced from 1st January 2021 to make Changing Places a legal requirement in all new public buildings.

How is the Changing Places Fund being allocated?

Working with the MHCLG and the Research Institute for Disabled Consumers, they will offer advice to support local authorities in their delivery.

Councils across England will be invited to “opt in” to bid for a proportion of the £30 million funding, where their applications will be assessed in accordance with need. If they are successful, they will then be able to install facilities in their communities.

The group will also undertake calls for evidence with users in England to help develop a greater understanding of user needs and priorities.

Not only will this new development help boost the number of Changing Place toilets in existing buildings, such as sports and tourism venues, it will also ensure more disabled people can take part in everyday activities, improving their quality of life.

Local Authorities

Full details of how district and unitary authorities can access this funding will be unveiled in the next few months.

Once that information has been released, authorities will then be invited to complete a short expression of interest to receive a proportion of this funding.

We recommend that local authorities consider where Changing Places toilets are most needed in their communities, and to work in partnership with other organisations to deliver these facilities, including securing match funding wherever possible.

Current Funding

Whilst local authorities await the next steps, there are other initiatives that currently offer Changing Places funding.

Here are the ones you can apply for now:

  • Funding is still 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.
  • The Department for Transport (DfT), in partnership with Muscular Dystrophy UK, announced in August 2020 that £1.27 million to install 37 more Changing Places at service stations across England.

The average cost of a Changing Places facility is around £16,000. So, this £30 million fund 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?

As of 1 January 2021, all new public buildings are now legally required to install Changing Place facilities. These are set out in Document M and BS 8300-2:2018 building regulations.

In the UK, a Changing Places toilet must be included in the planning application for the following building developments:

  • Shopping centres or retail parks – with gross floor areas of 30,000m2 +
  • Retail premises – 2,500m2 +
  • Sport or leisure buildings – 5,000m2 +
  • Stadiums, theme parks, zoos, art galleries of – with capacity for 2,000 people +

and

Has Coronavirus affected Changing Places funding and legislation?

The £30 million Changing Places fund was originally announced as part of the 2020 Budget.

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

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

As a result, progress in allocating Changing Places funding has suffered delays as Coronavirus has taken precedence. However, the long-term commitment to Changing Places hasn’t wavered.

Scotland’s decision to implement new building regulations from May 2020, and England following suit in January 2021, demonstrated 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?

In 2020, the construction industry was one of the first encouraged to return to work. Despite further lockdowns since that date, there is still plenty of potential for the construction of Changing Places facilities.

They are set to be part of the economic recovery from COVID-19, as we expect some of the experts involved in their constructions will be small and medium enterprises (subject to local procurement decisions).

BE AWARE OF THE REGULATION CHANGES

Architects, contractors, and property developers working on commercial buildings need to include Changing Places in all plans and designs for public buildings.

With new building regulations now in full effect, 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.

To help you learn more about Changing Places, we offer interactive 1-hour CPD sessions via Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or in-person. These sessions cover areas such as new legislation, specialist equipment needed for certification and tips for creating a business case.

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

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

Here are some practical steps architects and contractors can take now to prepare for the new Changing Places regulations.

As funding will be distributed through Local Authorities, we recommend getting in touch with your relevant local authority to register your interest in working in partnership with them to deliver a Changing Places toilet in your venue/ building.

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.