Last year, Lynne Featherstone MP* launched the Access to Elected Office Strategy to provide additional support for disabled people seeking elected office. The Strategy is designed to level the playing field for potential disabled candidates and tackle the currently low levels of disabled people in political life. The Liberal Democrat HQ diversity team forms part of the stakeholder group for this initiative. As part of this strategy, the Government has:
- Set up a new fund to help disabled people who plan to stand for elections with the extra disability-related costs. The fund will be open for applications until March 2014. It will help disabled candidates meet the additional costs they may face compared to a non-disabled person in standing for election, such as extra transport costs or sign language interpreters. Go to www.access-to-elected-office-fund.org.uk for more details.
- Provided new training and development opportunities for people who are interesed in a political career; including launching an introductory online training course and paid internships on the Speaker's Parliamentary Placement scheme. Go on www.access-to-elected-office-training.org.uk for more details on the online training.
Go to www.socialmobility.org.uk/speakers-parliamentary-placements-scheme for more details on the Parliamentary Placement Scheme, which is open for applications until 30 July 2012.
- Produced new online guidance on reasonable adjustments to help political parties meet their legal obligations under the Equality Act 2010.
Go to http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/equalities/public-political-equality/disabled-access-guidance/ to access the guidance
* Lynne is the Liberal Democrat MP for Hornsey and Wood Green. She was Minister for Equalities at the Home Office until her translation to Overseas Development last September.