Reinstate the Access to Elected Office Fund – Open Letter
Date Posted: Monday 27th November 2023
Until March 2020, the UK Government provided a fund to meet the costs of reasonable adjustments for Disabled candidates of elected officer. However, despite evidence that such a Fund is necessary, the Government has so far failed to re-establish it. The Government’s Disability Action Plan consultation proposes that a Fund be considered. We ‘ve signed this open letter calling on the Government to reinstate the vital and necessary Access to Elected Office Fund coordinated by Disability Rights UK:
Disabled people are represented in all communities and comprise over 20% of the population, and we should have a voice and influence in our democratic structures equal to our presence in society. And yet, Disabled people are significantly underrepresented in Parliament. There are only 5 MPs who identify as disabled, however, a truly representative Parliament would have 130 disabled MPs, or MPs with long-term health conditions.
Women also remain underrepresented in Parliament, making up only 35% of MPs despite being 51% of the population. Disabled women therefore face even greater barriers.
Disabled people face major obstacles to becoming political representatives. We are disproportionately poor, we have lower rates of educational attainment, and we are more likely to be in low paid work. In addition, we face attitudinal and institutional barriers to full participation in political life. Disabled people who become candidates experience additional hurdles. Political parties and institutions are slow to make reasonable adjustments that would address these hurdles and allow us to campaign on an equal basis.
In addition to the costs that every political candidate faces, we have additional disability-related costs. For instance, we may need to pay for: a Personal Assistant to support us; a BSL Interpreter; and specialised transport.
Until March 2020, the UK Government provided a fund to meet the costs of reasonable adjustments for Disabled candidates. However, despite evidence that such a Fund is necessary, the Government has so far failed to re-establish it.
The Government’s Disability Action Plan consultation proposes that a Fund be considered. We now call on the UK Government to urgently reinstate an Access to Elected Office Fund to support Disabled candidates to contest elections.
Centenary Action, Disability Policy Centre, Disability Rights UK, Women’s Budget Group, The Triple Cripples, Women’s Equality Network, The Democracy Network, 50:50 NI, Lifting Limits, The Disability Union, Compass, Unlock Democracy, The Wollstonecraft Society, Compassion in Politics, Soroptimist International Great Britain and Ireland, 50:50 Parliament, The Politics Project, Sortition Foundation, The Fawcett Society, mySociety, Citizens in Power, Migrant Democracy Project, Ability2Win, Birmingham Disability Resource Centre, Glitch, Surrey Coalition of Disabled People, I have a voice, My Vote My Voice, Pregnant Then Screwed, Disability Labour, The Jo Cox Foundation, Electoral Reform Society, Real, Conservative Disability Group, Equality Network, Out for Independence, SNP Disabled Members Group, Women 50:50, Inclusion Scotland