Last week, several new disabled MSPs were sworn in at Holyrood. But while the Scottish Parliament elections are over, it is important that we disabled people to continue to have our voices heard.
If you are a disabled person thinking about running for elected office, the Access to Elected Office Fund (Scotland) may be for you. The Fund is now open for applicants running for selection and as candidates for the Scottish local council elections in May 2022.
The Fund pays for practical support to allow disabled people to fully participate in the political process. This covers “reasonable adjustments” that level the playing field between disabled and non-disabled candidates, but not general campaign costs. Applicants do not need to have been selected yet nor do they need to be members of a party to apply for the Fund.
In the 2017 Scottish local council elections, there were 39 disabled candidates supported by the Access to Elected Office Fund (Scotland). Of these candidates, 15 were elected, representing 4 different political parties in 12 different councils. The Fund also supported 14 candidates during the 2021 Scottish Parliament elections.
The Access to Elected Office Fund (Scotland) is funded by the Scottish Government and administered by Inclusion Scotland.
Councillor Grant Ferguson, elected to South Lanarkshire Council as the first BSL-user councillor in Scotland, has written about his experience of using the Access to Elected Office Fund.