UK Politics

Government promises 'relief' for public toilet users

Public toilets

The government has promised to stop charging councils business rates on public toilets so more stay open despite coronavirus-hit finances.

Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg told MPs the measure, which will be included in a parliamentary bill, would be a "relief to all".

Chancellor Rishi Sunak pledged to bring in this change in February's Budget.

UK councils stopped maintaining one in eight public toilets between 2010 and 2018, according to BBC findings.

The Non-Domestic Rating (Public Lavatories) Bill for England and Wales will be debated in the House of Commons next week.

During Business Questions on Thursday, Conservative MP Richard Holden said councils dealing with the effects of coronavirus faced "huge financial pressures that have forced them to close" public toilets.

Image copyright PA Media and BBC
Image caption At loggerheads: Jacob Rees-Mogg and Emperor Vespasian disagree over public loos

Mr Rees-Mogg replied: "The taxation of toilets has been an issue since the reign of [Roman] Emperor Vespasian [AD 69 to 79], when he famously said, 'Pecunia non olet' - money does not stink - and thought it was quite reasonable to tax lavatorial facilities.

"Her Majesty's government takes the opposite view and is keen to remove this tax and I hope it will be a relief to all."

One of Mr Sunak's predecessors as chancellor, Philip Hammond, also promised legislation for business rate relief for public toilets in 2018, but there was not time to squeeze anything through during that parliamentary session.

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