4 May 2011 Trailblazers respond to government consultation on access to elected office
Trailblazers have responded to a Government consultation on improving access to elected office for disabled people, today.
The consultation was announced in February at the launch of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Young Disabled People and is looking at ways to create a mentoring programme that will allow aspiring disabled politicians to learn from people who have already made it to the top.
Through the consultation process Trailblazers and the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign have put forward ideas that we think will encourage more disabled people to put themselves forward for elected office and enter public life.
We have advised the Government to:
- build on plans for a disabled persons' internship scheme in Parliament.
- ensure MPs and councillors meet with and take serious consideration of the concerns of disabled people.
- get fully behind the APPG for young disabled people.
In February the Government announced a £1m package aimed at helping disabled people who want to become MPs, councillors or other elected officials. The consultation came partly in response to the fact that there are only a handful of disabled MPs, and only 3.5% of appointees to public bodies are disabled, although 14% of the working population is disabled.
Last year the Speaker's Conference on parliamentary representation concluded there was "overwhelming evidence" that financial barriers and the need for additional expenditure were significant barriers to elected office for disabled people.
The consultation also warns that there is a "mistrust of Parliament" among disabled people in relation to its ability to seriously address disability issues.
Bobby Ancil,Trailblazers project manager said:
It is important that the Government listens to the opinions and ideas of Trailblazers and the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign. Young disabled people know the support they require to be able to take a full part in elected office. Our involvement in the APPG for young disabled people proves that disabled people want to play a part in public life and get involved in the parliamentary process.