Public Toilets – FAQs


Public Toilets - FAQs

The CFPI’s flagship campaign for 2023 is our effort to drive public toilet provision through simple changes to incentives and funding. 

We’d like to take this opportunity answer a few key questions about the campaign:

How has public toilet provision in the UK changed?

Toilets have been closing. 

Between 2009 and 2022, local authority expenditure on public conveniences declined by 58%, a £72m reduction. Whilst many were transferred to town and parish councils or community groups, a large proportion have closed their doors.

Business Rates show that the number of public toilets declined from 5,000 to 3,900 in that period, whilst 36% of public toilets have closed since 2000.

What is the impact of the decline in public toilets?

Public toilet provision decline has significant, measurable negative effects on community health and wellbeing, and a pronounced impact on certain groups, such as older people, disabled people, and women.

There is also an economic cost, given the declining health of physical retail. Town centres provide an important role, bringing communities together for social and financial activity, creating local employment and the enterprise opportunities.

Planning decisions that impact the appeal and accessibility of high streets and markets will necessarily reduce footfall.

What does levelling up have to do with public toilets?

Currently – not enough. 

The UK government’s Levelling Up agenda aims to reduce regional disparities, improving opportunities and quality of life for people across the country. The CFPI welcomes the various grants available, particularly the Regeneration investment theme within the Levelling Up Fund, the Future High Streets Fund, and the Changing Places fund. 

The CFPI believes that Levelling Up Fund assessments of civic value should necessarily include and account for public conveniences, a reflection of their key role in stimulating local socioeconomic development.

How would the CFPI promote public toilet provision in the UK?

The CFPI proposes various policy initiatives to promote public toilet provision, including:

  • Defining processes for appraising the recreational and health value of public toilets within the Treasury Green Book,
  • Making provision for sustainable resourcing of the Changing Places Fund to improve accessibility,
  • Including public toilets within the Public Health Ringfenced Grant to provide statutory funding and accountability for convenience provision,
  • Expanding the Public Health Outcomes Framework to recognise public toilets as a preventative health measure.

By prioritising public toilets in this way, the UK Government has an opportunity to signal that civic facilities are a crucial part of public health, gender equality, and community development.

Providing local authorities the opportunity to involve communities in the provision of facilities is essential for fostering a sense of collective ownership, and the CFPI encourages contributions on how this can be promoted.

How can I support this campaign?

You can join our campaigners, to take action on public infrastructure online for just a few minutes each month.

We will email you brief, easy activities, including signing petitions and emailing your local politicians. You’ll complete these at a time to suit you.

If you’ve been elected to your council, you can contact our team to identify the current provision of toilets in your community and how this might be promoted.

If you are a Parliamentarian or work for one, get in touch to discuss your support for our campaign.