Politics: Calls for evidence on the access to elected office

With the need for greater representation in politics, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Disability has launched a call for evidence on access to elected office.

With the launch of an inquiry into access to elected office in the UK, the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Disability are calling for evidence from disabled people.

Background

Under the Equality Act 2010 both the Public Sector Equality Duty and the Reasonable Adjustments Duty were created. These require public authorities to consider how their policies or actions affect disabled people and their access to goods and services.

Currently, 21 per cent of the population in the UK are disabled, if these numbers were proportional to the number of disabled MPs, we should expect to see about 136 disabled MPs.

Currently, just five MPs are open about having a disability. Further, the number of openly disabled Local Authority Councillors is around 14 per cent.

Previously, the government has attempted to bridge this representation gap with funds to support disabled people running for elected office, but the two notable funds, the Access to Elected Office Fund and The Enable Fund for Elected Office, are both now closed in England.

Currently, Scotland has extended the Access to Elected office Fund and Wales is consulting on a fund.

The Government Equalities Office recommends there should be heightened efforts from the UK government to conduct research around the number of disabled people who failed to be selected for office or were prevented from running for office because of cost barriers.

Barriers

Written submission on all aspects of elected office are welcome – including from those who have stood for or secured an elected position, political parties, public sector organisations, charities and academics – but the group are particularly interested in submissions answering a set of questions.

1. What are the largest barriers when deciding to stand for election?

  • Have these barriers deterred you from standing for election? This can include but is not limited to social, economic and political factors.

2. Once elected, are there barriers within your institution (local authority, parliament etc) that limit your ability to carry out your role?
3. (If applicable) When elected, are there barriers to career progression?
4. What can be done to support an increase in elected disabled representatives?

  • Are there examples of successful initiatives or activities that have increased political representation?

5. What support (if any) do disabled people need to run for elected office?

  • What can the government do to support disabled candidates?

6. What progress has been made in helping people with disabilities run for elected office?
7. Did the Access to Elected Office Fund and EnAble Fund have a significant impact?

  • What can be improved from the previous funds?
  • Should there be a permanent fund established to help people with disabilities run for elected office?

People or organisations that wish to respond to the call for evidence must submit their answers and experiences by 18 June at 5pm via email to appginquiry@gmail.com

If you find it difficult to send your evidence via email, email kirosinghr@parliament.uk or call 02072 196 855 to discuss your needs.