Disabled people who want to stand for election as a councillor or MP, including the 2015 General Election, can benefit from a grant to help cover any additional costs they may face.
The Access to Elected Office for Disabled People Fund has been extended by an extra 12 months to the end of March 2015 and provides cash grants to help with any supplementary costs that a disabled candidate might face when standing for election (such as extra transport or sign-language interpreting).
Prospective candidates who have disabilities can apply for between £250 and £40,000 per calendar year. This is an increase from the previous limit of £20,000 per year.
The Fund has also been extended to cover town and parish council elections in England.
Michael MacDonald, fund applicant and Liberal Democrat candidate for the 2014 local elections, said:
"Having previously stood for election, I knew that the support provided by the Fund was much needed for disabled candidates. The personal cost of standing for election for me was very high, as I needed to pay for British Sign Language translators, and this created a huge barrier to me participating fully in the process. Knowing that I now have access to this support at no personal cost to me is such a relief. Knowing that I can get the support I need, when I need it, is has filled me with confidence and rebuilt my enthusiasm for politics"
Phil Stevens, Chair of the Liberal Democrat Disability Association, said:
"The Liberal Democrat Disability Association welcomes the news that the Fund is to be extended for a further year. We believe that disabled people should be fairly represented at all political levels, and this is an important step towards achieving an electorate which represents the needs of all society - including disabled people. We hope that due to the assistance Access to Elected Office can afford disabled people, more of our members and potential disabled candidates across the country will be able to stand in the 2015 local and UK parliament elections. The increase in upper grant limit from £20,000 to £40,000 is fantastic news for those disabled candidates who face significant costs, such as the cost of employing British Sign Language interpreters or note takers."
The financial support will apply to candidates who are applying to these types of election and by-election:
The fund is independently administered by Digital Outreach Ltd (Convey) on behalf of the Government. For more information or to apply for a grant, visit the Access to Elected Office for Disabled People Fund. You can also read Michael MacDonald's full case study, along with a collection of stories from other disabled people in political life, including Sal Brinton, David Buxton and Greg Judge.
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