From Monday 17 September 2018 the Access to Elected Office Fund (Scotland) will be open for applicants running for selection and as candidates for the Scottish Parliament elections in 2021.
The Fund, which is delivered by Inclusion Scotland and financed by the Scottish Government, offers financial assistance to disabled people running in the 2021 Scottish Parliament election, and in any by-elections for Local Authority and Scottish Parliament seats.
It 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 Local Authority elections, there were 39 disabled candidates supported by the Access to Elected Office Fund pilot scheme. Of these candidates, 15 were elected, representing 4 different political parties in 12 different councils.
Jenny Adam McGregor, SNP Councillor for Paisley North East & Ralston said “The help I was given from Inclusion Scotland and the Access to Elected Office Fund was invaluable. By bringing down the barriers that would have prevented me from standing for office, their assistance and understanding made my dream a reality. I hadn’t realised how isolated I had become until I was back involved in the work place, doing a job I love & being able to help other people.”
City of Glasgow Councillor Robert Mooney (Scottish Labour) added “If it wasn’t for the Access to Elected Office Fund I would never have considered standing for election. It would have been impossible without that support. I would urge any disabled person who has ever thought about standing for office to take the leap and access the fund. Things will never get better for disabled people until we have fair and equal representation on all level of government.”
Liberal Democrats councillor Grahame Hardie, who represents Helenburgh Central on Argyll and Bute Council, said “The Access to Elected Office Fund Scotland is a vital step forward in levelling the playing field for disabled people to be represented in political office. It is a major component for the disabled people’s movement to reach the goal of greater representation in society and allow disabled peoples voices to be heard.”
“We were deeply encouraged by the candidates and those elected in last year’s pilot,” said Ethan Young, Civic Participation Officer at Inclusion Scotland. “They demonstrated how practical support can make the difference for many disabled people running for elected office. It is abundantly clear that society misses out when there is a lack of equal representation. We hope many more will apply for the Access to Elected Office Fund and in time the debating chamber in our Parliament will more accurately represent the people of Scotland.”
To express your interest in applying for the Access to Elected Office Fund, or to find out further information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07717 858 405.