The health of disabled Scots is being put at risk by the decline in the provision of public toilets, Scottish Labour has warned.
Monica Lennon, Scottish Labour’s shadow cabinet secretary for communities, is calling on the Scottish Government to take action after a leading disability charity Disability Equality Scotland, expressed concern about the impact on thousands of people with disabilities.
Ms Lennon said: “Public toilets are vanishing in Scotland as councils struggle to meet the needs of their communities because of £1.5 billion of austerity budget cuts by this SNP government.
Ms Lennon added: “It is always the most vulnerable who pay the price of austerity.
“Scottish Labour is calling on SNP ministers to abandon cuts and to use the powers of the Scottish Parliament to fund our councils properly.
“Councils, for example, want the ability to introduce a local tourist tax in their areas to help pay for community amenities like public toilets and the Scottish Government should stop preventing them from doing so.”
Campaigners say the shortage also impacts on older people, those with caring responsibilities and women needing to use such facilities due to pregnancy, periods and gynaecological conditions.
Morven Brooks, the charity’s chief executive officer, said: “Being able to use a toilet is a basic human right. However every day thousands of disabled people are denied that right due to the worrying decline in public toilets and the lack of suitable facilities therein for disabled people.
“A lack of public toilets can also be a health risk, leading to social isolation as it could prevent disabled people from leaving their homes, feeling humiliated, and worried about how they would cope without suitable public toilet facilities being available.
“Organisations and public bodies have a duty of care under the Equality Act 2010 to make reasonable adjustments or provisions for people who are at particular risk due to disability, injury or other mobility restrictions.
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Public toilets are clearly an important service provided by local authorities for the disabled and the wider community. The fact is that despite continued UK Government real terms cuts to Scotland’s resource budget, we have treated local government very fairly.
“In 2018-19, councils will receive funding through the local government finance settlement of £10.7 billion. This will provide a real terms boost in both revenue and capital funding for public services.”