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The Non-Domestic Rating (Public Lavatories) Bill 2019–21 is a government bill that would introduce 100% mandatory business rates relief for public lavatories in England and Wales.

In recent years, organisations such as the Royal Society for Public Health have expressed concern about the rate at which public lavatories have been closing. According to data obtained by the BBC in 2018, local councils have stopped maintaining at least 673 public lavatories across the UK since 2010. The data, supplied by 376 of the 430 councils in the UK, reveals that there were at least 4,486 public lavatories run by councils in the UK in 2018, down from at least 5,159 in 2010.

To help prevent the closure of public lavatories, the Government has sought to reduce the cost of maintaining them. In the 2018 budget, the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, announced that owners of stand-alone public lavatories would no longer pay business rates. Consequently, the Government introduced the Non-Domestic Rating (Public Lavatories) Bill [HL] 2017–19. However, the bill fell when Parliament prorogued in October 2019.

In the March 2020 budget, the current Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, recommitted to reintroducing a business rates relief measure for public lavatories. He stated that it would apply retrospectively from 1 April 2020.

Following the general election, the bill was introduced in the House of Commons on 18 March 2020. Second reading took place on 16 July 2020, with the remaining stages held on 3 September 2020. During second reading, Simon Clarke, then Minister of State at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, said that the bill would “reduce running costs [for local authorities] and help keep these vital facilities open”. The measures in the bill received cross-party support. However, opposition MPs such as the Shadow Secretary of State for Housing, Thangam Debbonaire, expressed concerns that the bill did not “redress the overall damage done” by cuts to local authority funding and that the bill did not cover other public buildings, such as libraries. Despite these concerns, the bill passed through the House of Commons without amendment.

The bill had its first reading in the House of Lords on 7 September 2020.


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