THE path into politics is to be made easier for disabled people with funding from £250 to £10,000 available.
A new £2.6m Government fund has been set up to help disabled people overcome barriers to becoming councillors, Police and Crime Commissioners or MPs. The money will help meet the additional costs a disabled candidate may face in standing for election, such as extra transport or sign-language interpreters.
Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone said: “The 10 million disabled people in the UK are under-represented in public life. This is an important step towards levelling the playing field.
“This is about breaking down the physical, financial and cultural barriers that prevent many talented people from playing their part in political life.
“Encouraging disabled people to make their voices heard will not only help individuals fulfil their potential but will enrich and improve our politics at local and national level.”
The new support will first apply to the election of Police and Crime Commissioners in November this year.
Ms Featherstone added: “The arrival of Police and Crime Commissioners will be the most significant democratic reform of policing in our lifetime. I hope this fund will enable more disabled candidates to come forward and hold the police to account.”
In addition to the fund, a new online training and development package has been tailored to disabled people who are interested in a political career.
The fund and online training are part of the Government’s Access to Elected Office Strategy which also includes paid internships for disabled candidates on the Speaker’s Parliamentary Placement scheme.
Maria Miller, Minister for Disabled People said: “Sadly some people still hold outdated views that disability isn’t compatible with elected office. If this misguided idea is left unchallenged, it means a huge amount of talent remains untapped and a huge amount of potential goes unfulfilled.”