The CFPI responds to Liberal Democrat call for a public toilet fund
The Liberal Democrats are calling for the government to set up a public toilet fund so that councils can provide facilities that meet the needs of local communities.
Liberal Democrat Local Government spokesperson Helen Morgan MP said:
“This is yet another example of our local communities up and down the country being abandoned by this Conservative government. People deserve these basic facilities and yet they are being let down.
“Ministers have, for years, savagely cut local authority budgets and now we are seeing the erosion of local facilities like public toilets.
“We need real and targeted funding to ensure local people are getting the fair deal that they deserve.”
The CFPI welcomes this call and notes with concern that the Liberal Democrats found:
‘a quarter (24%) of the councils said that the financial pressures of keeping the facilities open meant that they could no longer provide them.’
While ‘a fifth (20%) highlighted anti-social behaviour, arson, threats to staff, or vandalism as at least part of the reason they closed their facilities.’
A public toilet fund would help councils to keep toilets open. But we can easily do more. The CFPI has called for simple changes to spending rules to allow local authorities to invest in public toilets:
By changing the Green Book – the Treasury’s guidelines for evaluating policies and investment – to recognise and appraise the economic and social benefits of public toilets, millions of pounds for new toilets would be unlocked.
By allowing public health money to be spent on toilet maintenance, the essential day to day running costs that 24% of councils in Lib Dem’s FOI’s found to be unsustainable could be met by central grants.
The CFPI is grateful to the Liberal Democrats for recognising the need for better toilet provision, and hopes that other parties, politicians, and local authorities will respond to the needs of communities and invest in public space.