THE WELSH Government has launched a consultation on the establishment of a new fund to provide additional support to disabled people to seek elected office for the 2021 Senedd elections and the 2022 Local Government elections.
The consultation provides information on the range of support the fund will provide, including support for “invisible impairments”. Areas the Welsh Government is seeking feedback on include;
the eligibility criteria for the fund
limits on funding allocations per applicant
Management of the fund and the point at which support from the fund ceases; and
The name of the fund.
A pilot project will be set up for the 2021 Senedd elections, with the fund being open to individuals whose impairments fall within the definition of disability
The Minister for Housing and Local Government, Julie James said:
“Disabled people are likely to face greater costs when seeking elected office and this fund will help to reduce some of the financial barriers faced.”
“We are committed to increasing diversity across all aspects of public life including tackling the barriers which prevent an individual’s active participation in local democracy through standing for elected office. This consultation will inform the detailed arrangements for the operation and management of the fund, which is being taken forward by Disability Wales. This fund will support individuals to play a full role in supporting and representing their communities.”
The Deputy Minister and Chief Whip, Jane Hutt said:
“Creating a more equal Wales, where everyone has the opportunity to participate, reach their full potential and is able to contribute fully to the economy, will enable Wales to be more prosperous and innovative.”
There are many ways in which individuals are limited by disabling barriers in society and depending on their specific impairments or condition, each person is likely to need very different support. These will range from assistance with taxi fares, to specialist equipment such as screen reader software to British Sign Language interpretation for deaf candidates. We know that some people do not stand in elections because they do not have this support and this fund seeks to overcome this and enable everyone across Wales to be able to participate and represent their communities.
Rhian Davies, Chief Executive of Disability Wales said:
“The Access to Elected Office Fund in Wales marks a significant milestone in advancing disability equality in Wales both by widening rights to democratic participation as well as ensuring that those who are elected to represent our communities also reflect the diversity of our communities.
Disability Wales is excited at the opportunity of working with disabled people interested in standing for office, political parties across the spectrum and stakeholders involved in the electoral process, in designing and delivering the pilot scheme. The support for candidates that will be provided through the fund will contribute considerably to creating a level playing field for disabled people seeking elected office whether nationally or locally.”