New funding of £200,000 to help disabled people participate in politics and stand as local councillors was announced today.
The money will help to cover additional costs for accessible transport or communications support for disabled people who wish to stand for selection or election in the 2017 local government elections.
Disabled people are significantly under-represented as local councillors and the fund will back up the wide ranging support to increase their representation.
Minister for Local Government and Community Empowerment Marco Biagi said:
“The Scottish Government is dedicated to ensuring more people from under-represented groups are treated equally and fairly at all levels. It is vital for society that all our groups are represented in politics and elected offices at all levels. We know disabled people often find it difficult to access elected offices due to the many barriers that exist and the additional cost of being disabled is one of them.
“I am delighted to announce this funding, which comes as a direct response to one of the key demands from disabled people’s campaign organisations, who all highlight that funding is a major barrier for disabled people to even consider accessing politics.
“The democratic participation fund for disabled people contributes towards our broader ambition to encourage more people from under-represented groups to stand for elected office so our local councils become more reflective of the communities they serve.”
The project will be run by Inclusion Scotland on a pilot basis until May 2017,Chief Executive Officer Sally Witcher said:
“As an organisation led by disabled people themselves, working towards the full and equal participation of disabled people in Scottish public life is a key part of Inclusion Scotland’s mission. This new Fund has the potential to make a real difference, not just to individual disabled people, but ultimately to the strengthening of Scottish democracy. Participation in public and political life is everyone’s human right and there is much work to do to ensure that this right can be fully exercised by disabled people. We are delighted to have been charged with the role of administering such an important scheme.”
Jamie Szymkowiak, founder of disability campaign group One in Five, said:
“The creation of the democratic participation fund for disabled people by the Scottish Government is magnificent news. The fund will certainly help smash the financial barriers disabled people face accessing politics – such as additional transport needs, sign language interpreters or extra travel costs if you have a carer. The One in Five campaign is delighted that this early announcement provides disabled people, across the political spectrum, plenty of time to consider standing for selection in the 2017 Local Government elections. The Fund, together with the redefinition of candidates’ personal expenses and the Access to Politics Project, provides the best opportunity for Scotland to address the under representation of disabled people in politics.”