PRESS RELEASE – Embargo 1430 February 20th 2016
Inclusion Scotland warmly welcomes today’s announcement by the Scottish Government of funding to widen disabled people’s access to participation in politics. The new “Democratic Participation Fund for Disabled People” will help level the playing field by awarding grants to disabled people seeking selection or election in the 2017 Scottish Local Council elections. The grants will help remove barriers such as the need for communication support, personal assistance or additional transport costs that can prevent talented disabled people with a great deal to offer from realising their human right to full participation in democracy.
The announcement of this year-long pilot Fund to be administered by Inclusion Scotland coincides with the anniversary of the ‘One in Five Campaign’, and marks the culmination of 3 years’ work by Inclusion Scotland to drive this issue up the political agenda. An independent panel will oversee award decisions, ensuring that grants act only to level the financial playing field for disabled candidates, without any other impact on party campaigning activity.
Inclusion Scotland’s CEO, Dr Sally Witcher OBE, 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.”
This Fund is to be delivered in tandem with the “Access to Politics” project, which has since November 2015 offered non-financial support and advice for disabled people seeking to become more politically involved in general.
Sally Witcher continued:
“If we are ultimately to see more disabled people elected, it’s vital that we work to change attitudes and increase awareness of inclusive practice from the very first day of disabled people’s involvement in politics. Barriers to our democratic participation can arise right at the outset, through inaccessible premises for meetings, inaccessible communication methods and so on. We are delighted that the Scottish Government has recognised this by funding us to provide a parallel advice and support service for disabled people seeking participation more widely. This along with the new Fund will enable us to promote and facilitate the increased representation of disabled people and thence the strengthening of Scottish democracy overall.”
- Inclusion Scotland (IS) is a consortium of organisations of disabled people and disabled individuals. Inclusion Scotland works to make sure that decisions affecting disabled people’s daily lives are informed by their views and lived experience. We work for the removal of the barriers that exclude disabled people from participation in all aspects of Scottish life.
- The One in Five campaign is a campaign to encourage, empower and increase political participation amongst disabled people in Scotland. More information is available from the website: http://www.oneinfive.scot/
- Disabled people are currently significantly under-represented in politics. Despite making up a fifth of the population, only a handful of MSPs and MPs have openly identified as disabled people. Early indications suggest that the next Scottish Parliament may have even less disabled MSPs than at present.
- The announcement is due to be made on 20th February 2016 at 2.30pm, outside The Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh. The announcement will take place during the ‘Access to Politics’ Photocall, which marks the One in Five campaigns first anniversary.