Funding will help more disabled people stand for election in 2017

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A new fund will help disabled people ‘smash the barriers’ and stand for election as local councillors.

The £200,000 Democratic Particpation Fund for Disabled People will cover additional costs for would-be candidates in the 2017 local elections.

This can be used to pay for accessible transport or communication support.

Disabled people are significantly under-represented as local councillors and campaigners hope the Scottish Government cash will help to change this.

The project will be run by the campaign group Inclusion Scotland on a pilot basis until May 2017.

Its chief executive officer, Sally Witcher, said: “This new fund has the potential to make a real difference, not just to individual disabled people, but ultimately to the strengthening of Scottish democracy.

“Participation in public and political life is everyone’s human right and there is much work to do to ensure this right can be fully exercised by disabled people.

“We are delighted to have been charged with the role of administering such an important scheme.”

Minister for Local Government and Community Empowerment Marco Biagi said: “It is vital for society that all our groups are represented in politics and elected offices at all levels. We know disabled people often find it difficult to access elected offices due to the many barriers that exist and the additional cost of being disabled is one of them.

“This comes as a response to one of the key demands from disabled people’s campaign organisations, who all highlight that funding is a barrier for disabled people to even consider accessing politics.

Disability campaigner Jamie Szymkowiak, founder of One in Five, said: “The fund will certainly help smash the financial barriers disabled people face accessing politics - such as additional transport needs, sign language interpreters or extra travel costs if you have a carer. This announcement provides disabled people with plenty of time to consider standing for selection in the 2017 Local Government elections.”