Funding announced for disabled candidates to contest local elections

Scheme said to offer the disabled the platform they need to change the policies that affect them.

Wheelchair Ramp 001

Disabled candidates are being offered up to £4,000 in grants to cover campaign cost in next year’s local elections – including specialist transport and sign language interpretation.

Supporters say the EnAble Fund offers the disabled the platform they need to change the policies that affect them directly instead of being spoken on behalf of by local councillors.

Going into the May elections only 10% of councillors have a disability, compared with about 20% of the UK population.

Now, government is offering £250,000, which is expected to fund around 60 candidates – with nearly 9,000 council seats contested.

Lord Porter, Chairman of the Local Government Association, said councils needed a choice of quality candidates.

“We encourage people with disabilities and a passion for change to strongly consider becoming a councillor to ensure local communities are represented by a diverse pool of people – otherwise they risk missing out on the best.”

Mayoral and police and crime commissioner candidates will also be able to apply to the scheme – relaunched today (Dec 3).

Officials hope the return of the scheme will encourage the main political parties to prioritise the selection of people with disabilities.

Applications for grants will be accepted from January.

Disability rights campaigners have called for the scheme to be expanded – but welcomed its return.

Sue Bott, the deputy chief executive of Disability Rights UK, said: “Local councillors make decisions on a myriad of important areas which impact on disabled people.

“From social care to education budgets, we need to hear more voices from disabled people on local issues.

“We hope this is the beginning of something which will see funding increase.

Political parties across the spectrum have a poor track record when it comes to selecting and supporting disabled candidates – they should be doing better,” she said.

Representation is worse in parliament than local councils, with five MPs out of 650 having declared themselves disabled.

Studies have shown that cuts to welfare and council budgets have fallen disproportionately on people with disabilities.

Last month the UN rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Philip Alston, said austerity measures in the UK meant the government had breached its human rights obligations towards the disabled.

Stats from the Social Metrics Commission show that a fifth of the population were living in poverty and nearly half of those were from families in which someone was disabled.

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