DISABILITY WALES has welcomed the opening of the second stage of the Access to Elected Office Fund Wales, announced by Rebecca Evans, Minister for Finance and Local Government.
The Fund will now be open to disabled people wishing to stand for election as local councillors in the 2022 Local Government elections. It is open to those wishing to stand for their community and town council, as well as those standing for their borough, city and county council.
Wales is the first nation in the United Kingdom to offer financial assistance to disabled candidates standing at this grassroots level of local democracy.
The Fund which is delivered by Disability Wales and financed by the Welsh Government, offers financial assistance to disabled people towards the additional costs of reasonable adjustments to overcome the impairment related barriers they face when standing for election.
It pays for practical support to allow for disabled people to fully participate in the political process. This covers reasonable adjustments that level the playing field between disabled and non-disabled candidates, but not general campaign costs.
Individuals can apply for assistance with the additional costs of support to overcome barriers which will enable participation in the election. This could include:
- Assistive aids, equipment and software, adaptations to equipment.
- Training in the use of specialist equipment and software.
- Travel around the constituency if you cannot use public transport.
- Personal assistance, communication support workers such as BSL Interpreters, Palantypists and Lip speakers
Rhian Davies, Chief Executive of Disability Wales said: “Disability Wales is excited to be working in support of disabled people standing in the 2022 local government elections. Many Deaf or disabled candidates face additional expenditure when campaigning e.g. with transport, communication support or equipment. The Access to Elected Office Fund will help meet these costs and contribute to removing some of the barriers disabled people face when seeking elected office.
“Moreover, the launch of the Fund in Wales marks a significant milestone in advancing disability equality in Wales both by widening rights to democratic participation as well as ensuring those who are elected to represent our communities also reflect the diversity of our communities”.
The arrangements include an advice and support service provided through Disability Wales, which will provide individuals with an opportunity to discuss the level of support they require, and assistance, where required with the application process. A number of Access to Politics events will be hosted by Disability Wales to provide awareness about the support available and the timescales for applications.
After submission, applications will be anonymised, before consideration by a panel made up of individuals with lived experience of disability and making reasonable adjustments.
* More information on the Fund and how to apply is available here.