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All-Party Parliamentary Group for Disability inquiry into access to elected office in the UK

17 May 2021

Background

Under the Equality Act of 2010, an individual is considered ‘disabled’ if they have a physical or mental impairment that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ negative effect on their ability to do normal daily activities.

Both the Public Sector Equality Duty and the Reasonable Adjustments Duty were created by the Equality Act, which requires public authorities to consider how their policies or actions affect disabled people and their access to goods and services.

There are currently 14.1 million disabled people in the UK, which is 21% of the population, with 8% of children being disabled, 19% of working age adults, and 44% of pension age adults. If these numbers were proportional to the number of disabled MPs, we should expect to see about 136 disabled MPs. We currently have 5 MPs who are open about having a disability.

Moreover, the number of openly disabled Local Authority Councilors is about 14%.

The government has attempted to bridge this representation gap by funding the Access to Elected Office Fund, which has provided grants between £250 and £40,000 to disabled people running for elected office. From 2012-2015, this fund supported 94 applications and 67 candidates for a total value of £418,734. This fund is currently closed, but, in 2018, an interim fund called The Enable Fund for Elected Office was established worth £250,000, but this too has now closed.

The Government Equalities Office recommends that since there is no quantitative data for the number of disabled people who failed to be selected for office or were prevented from running for office because of cost barriers, there should be heightened efforts from the UK government to conduct such research.

NB Scotland has extended the Access to Elected Office fund and Wales is currently consulting on a fund.

Call for written submissions

The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Disability has launched an inquiry into access to elected office in the UK. We are keen to receive evidence from disabled people  (including those who have stood for or secured an elected position, political parties, public sector organizations, charities and academics.

We are inviting written submissions into all aspects of accessing elected office, but are particularly interested in submissions answering the following 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?

How to Submit

Where possible, please give specific examples and references. Please feel free to only write evidence on particular aspects that are relevant to your area of expertise.

You can respond on behalf of an organisation or as an individual. However, please state clearly who the submission is from, i.e. whether from yourself in a personal capacity or sent on behalf of an organisation.

Please submit your written evidence via email to appginquiry@gmail.com

We ask that you put “APPG for Disability - Call for Evidence’” in the subject line. 

Everyone deserves to have their voice heard. Please contact us if for any reason you find it difficult to send us your evidence via email, as we are committed to ensuring evidence submission is accessible. 

To discuss your needs, you can email Roberta on kirosinghr@parliament.uk or call us on 02072196855.

The deadline for submissions is 18th June at 5pm.