Access to elected office for disabled people
13 September 2011
In response to the government announcing that it intends to take forward five proposals to support disabled people into elected positions, Richard Hawkes, Chief Executive of disability charity Scope, commented:
“We are delighted the Government is proposing to introduce more financial support to help disabled people who want to take part in public life. Disabled people want to enrich our political debate but continue to be under-represented in public life due to a range of barriers they face, including negative attitudes and increased costs if they require specific equipment or support.
“With the localism agenda progressing, and the Government considering ways to devolve more powers to local communities, it is even more imperative that we readdress this under-representation.”
Access to elected office for disabled people: A response to the consultation
The government published its response to a consultation which looked at various ways to support disabled people who are seeking elected positions as MPs, councillors or other elected officials. The consultation ran between February and May this year and put forward six proposals to deliver changes that could support more disabled people into elected positions.
The proposals included:
Proposal 1: Government should work more closely with political parties, the Local Government Association (LGA) and disability organisations to develop focused awareness raising.
Proposal 2: Work with political parties, the Local Government Association (LGA) and disabled people’s organisations to develop a cross-party Ambassadors programme.
Proposal 3: Provide training and development opportunities aimed at supporting disabled people through the route to political participation.
Proposal 4: Establish an Access to Elected Office Fund to support disability-related costs.
Proposal 5: Work with political parties to analyse their existing disability access policies and cascade and promote any good practice.
Proposal 6: Promote and explain legal obligations that apply to political parties, such as develop a short guide, website materials and/or a toolkit to support local authorities and political parties to fulfil their duties under the Equality Act.
Following the consultation the government intends to take forward all of the proposals, with the exception of Proposal 2.
For more information visit http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/equalities/public-political-equality/access-response/