Ministers have launched a £2m fund to provide more accessible toilet facilities for disabled people at service stations in England.
The Department for Transport is (DfT) partnering with Muscular Dystrophy UK (MDUK) to award the money for Changing Places toilets, which officials said are expected to be ready by the early 2020s.
By providing more space and specialised equipment, including adult-sized changing benches and hoists, Changing Places facilities allow people with conditions like muscular dystrophy and cerebral palsy to use toilets safely and comfortably.
Officals said a lack of suitable facilities affects more than a quarter of a million people - who cannot use standard disabled toilets - across the UK.
Transport accessibility minister Nusrat Ghani said: ‘This marks the next step towards our ambition of delivering a fully inclusive transport network.
‘It is unacceptable that, despite welcome investment in some areas, our roadside services are not more accessible for over a quarter of a million people, and I am determined to do more.'
Catherine Woodhead, chief executive of MDUK, said: ‘Individuals and families living with a disability often tell us that travelling by car is the easiest way for them to get from A to B.
‘Building Changing Places toilets at motorway service stations will make it easier for more than a quarter of a million people and their families to visit friends, go on holiday, or simply enjoy a day out somewhere – activities the rest of us take for granted.’
MDUK will work with the DfT to allocate funding based on detailed proposals by the operators of motorway services.
The Changing Places application portal will be open for three months with successful applicants announced in September.
The DfT’s partnership with MDUK was announced last November under the Government’s Inclusive Transport Strategy.
The strategy set out key commitments to improve disabled people’s access across all modes of transport by 2030, which included:
- £300m to make railway stations more accessible through the Access for All scheme
- £2m for audio and visual equipment on buses, so that passengers know where and when to alight
- a £2m passenger awareness campaign to increase disability awareness and reduce hate crime on our network
- an accreditation scheme for transport operators to receive formal recognition for positive work to improve disabled passengers’ experiences, such as training frontline staff and senior management on disability awareness
- measures to ensure future technology is designed inclusively from the outset, with opportunities sought to harness innovation