Access to elected office for disabled people

The route into elected office can be daunting, particularly if you face additional barriers to standing due to a disability. The access to elected office strategy aims to provide support to disabled people who want to become MPs, councillors or other elected officials.

In 2011 we ran a public consultation to seek views on a range of proposals. A summary of responses recieved, and the government's response were published on 13 September 2011.

Following that, the government has worked closely with disabled people's organisations and other stakeholders to develop practical support to help disabled people who want to stand for election. Further details are set out below.

Access to elected office fund

This fund, administered by Convey, will help candidates with the disability-related costs of standing for election. It is open for applications until the end of March 2014 and can help potential candidates overcome barriers like:

  • difficulties using public transport
  • paying for sign language interpreters
  • paying extra travel or accommodation costs if you need a carer

To apply for funding, you will need to provide:

  • confirmation that you are eligible to stand for elected office as per the rules set out by the Electoral Commission
  • information about your disability and the extra costs you face as a result
  • evidence of previous, relevant civic or political activity e.g. volunteering, being a school governor or magistrate, student politics etc

All fund applicants will also be asked to provide endorsement by a member of a political party or an independent referee if you are standing as an independent candidate.

Training and development

Online training course

This introductory online training course developed by BYG Systems Ltd gives an introduction to the skills you might need when standing for office. It is a general course aimed at anyone without previous experience who wants to know more about standing for elected office but includes specific advice and tips from disabled politicians.

The training covers:

  • becoming an elected representative
  • communication skills
  • working with the public and media

Speaker's parliamentary placement scheme

The speaker's parliamentary placement scheme, administered by the Social Mobility Foundation, gives people from diverse backgrounds the opportunity to get a taste of working in politics. It provides nine month paid work experience placements, working with an MP and gaining experience across departments in the House of Commons. Up to three of the placements are reserved for disabled people as part of the access to elected office strategy. The deadline for applications is 30 July.

Guidance for political parties

We have worked closely with political parties and other stakeholders to develop guidance for parties on their legal responsibilities under the Equality Act 2010, particularly on the reasonable adjustments they should make for disabled people.

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