19 July 2012 Access to Elected Office Fund launched
A £2.6 million fund designed to help disabled people overcome barriers to becoming elected officials has been launched by the government .
The new fund will help meet the additional costs a disabled candidate may face in standing for election as police and crime commissioners, councilors or MPs, such as extra transport or sign-language interpreters.
The fund will offer individual grants of between £250 and £20,000 to disabled people who want to be selected as candidates for an election, or who are standing for election.
In addition to the fund, a new online introductory training package recently went live, 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.
Disabled people are currently under-represented in public office and there are currently only a handful of disabled MPs, and only 3.5% of appointees to public bodies are disabled.
The success of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Young Disabled People demonstrates that many disabled people are keen to get involved in the parliamentary processes. However, disabled people are sometimes less likely to realise their potential in public office due to a number of factors which include perceptions of disability, financial barriers and inaccessibible environments.
Trailblazers want to develop the relationship with MPs and Peers and ensure that disabled people recognise that they have a major stake in and can play a leading role in public office.
Trailblazers Project manager, Bobby Ancil said:
The combination of the new Access to Elected Office fund, the Speaker's parliamentary placements and the online training package are all good news for young disabled people interested in politics and representing people in their area. I hope that people involved in the APPG for Young Disabled People will take on these new opportunities.