New fund opens to support disabled people seeking election in Wales
A new fund has been established by the Welsh Government to support disabled people seeking elected office.
The costs for sign language interpreters, taxi fares or equipment could be met for disabled people seeking election as part of the Access to Elected Office Fund.
The pilot scheme, managed by Disability Wales, is now open to support individuals for next year’s local government elections who may need extra help to run for office.
The fund will also be available to assist for those seeking election to community and town councils in 2022.
The fund will cover additional costs such as equipment, training, travel and communication support workers such as British Sign Language and other interpreters.
Welcoming the support, Damian Bridgeman, who has complex cerebral palsy and previously stood for election before the fund was established, said: “I really wanted to make a difference to society and to show the people of Wales that actually we need a diverse electorate to represent us, because if we don’t have diverse voices, we’re not really going to be able to represent them fairly.
“I would have put funding support towards a personal assistant. I would have put it towards running a lot more meet-and-greets, so that it felt a bit easier than actually running on a traditional door-knocking event. I could have controlled the environments that I would have actually interacted with the electorate therefore taking away the barriers and allowing myself to achieve what I needed to achieve.”
Jane Hutt, Minister for Social Justice, said:”We have to do more to increase diversity among our elected officials if we are to make Wales a fair and just society, free from discrimination and inequality.
“This funding will help to ensure that disabled people do not face barriers when taking part in Welsh elections by paying for the reasonable adjustments they need.”
Next year’s local government elections will see 1,254 councillors elected to 22 principal councils across Wales and over 8,000 councillors will also be elected to community and town councils.