Following the decision to review the Access to Elected Office Fund after the 2015 General Election, the Conservative Disability Group has been pressing for the reintroduction of the fund. So, how pleasing it is to hear that the Access to Elected Office Fund is being reintroduced. The announcement from Penny Mordaunt MP, Minister for Women and Equalities on 17th May is very welcome and shows the Conservative Party is listening to disabled people.
The fund provides financial support to candidates seeking election in the 2019 English local elections, removing barriers which some disabled people face when campaigning. The fund will not replace the support political parties should provide to candidates who have a disability - as all parties should make suitable adjustments. This additional support will enable disabled candidates to fight elections on an equal footing with their non-disabled counter-parts, allowing them to showcase their political abilities.
Having used the fund in several local elections, I have first-hand experience of how the fund can aid candidates to fulfil campaigning obligations. As a blind person, standing as a Conservative Candidate in Maidstone, being able to have a support worker with me when canvassing was a great help, without this support I could not have visited as many voters to listen to their views and concerns.
At the CDG’s annual colloquium on Monday 14 May 2018, delegates raised their concerns to MP’s and Peers about the importance of funding to assist disabled candidates, saying “we need more disabled people at all levels in local and national government”.
The CDG and candidates from all parties will welcome this decision and we would hope the government will consider introducing a permanent fund covering all elections going forward. The more political parties reflect society, the better the decision making will be.
CDG, Deputy Chairman