Tag Archives: access to elected office fund

Bring back the Access to Elected Office Fund

Many of our readers will remember speeches given at Conference by David Buxton. They were notable because they were given in British Sign Language. On each occasion a member of the wonderful BSL interpreting team switched roles and gave the spoken interpretation. At the end we all showed our appreciation with jazz hands instead of the usual clapping.

David was our Parliamentary candidate in East Hampshire, where he increased the Lib Dem vote by a very creditable 9%. But:

I’ve ended up having to pay £5,000 out of my own pocket for sign language interpreters, which has been very disappointing as the Conservatives abolished the The Access to Elected Office Fund, which helps disabled people with the costs of standing for election, in 2015.

So after multiple years of campaigning within the coalition – lots of campaigning for that – unfortunately that was abolished.

He appealed directly to Damien Hinds who was re-elected in the seat for the Conservatives.

I’m sure that most of us hadn’t realised that this fund had been cut. But now that we do know about the impact it has on candidates we should be campaigning with David to get it reinstated. A resolution for the New Year?

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The Enable Fund: a helping hand for disabled candidates

On 3 December 2018 the Government launched the Enable Fund to help disabled candidates with the additional costs they face when standing for political office. This can include BSL interpreters, personal assistance costs, accessible technology, additional transport costs and the like.

Any candidate with a serious physical or mental impairment can apply to the fund. However, any grant awarded must be used to overcome specific obstacles faced by the disabled person. It can’t be spent on campaigning or campaign materials. It exists to help disabled candidates overcome the many barriers to standing for elected office, and as a visually impaired …

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Temporary reprieve for funds for disabled election candidates

Last month, David Buxton wrote about how the Government’s freezing of the Access to Elected Office Fund meant that he simply couldn’t stand in the 2017 General Election:

For the 2015 General Election, I obtained a grant of £40,000 from the Access to Elected Office Fund, which I used to participate in the Liberal Democrat candidate-selection process. But I could not have participated without the Fund’s support.

And​, last year,​ I was effectively barred from standing in the 2017 General Election because of the absence of the Fund.Many o​ther deaf and disabled candidates from ​the Lib Dems and from ​other parties ​are affected too, ​including Emily Brothers from Labour who is blind, ​and Simeon Hart for the Greens who is deaf, both of whom feature in the More United campaign​.​

The Access to Elected Office Fund used to help deaf and disabled people from all political parties, to stand for election, at any level. It ran from 2012-2015, and was intended to create a level playing field, given the additional costs that disabled people can incur when standing for election.

British Sign Language Interpreters, assistive technology for blind people and mobility transport all cost money. But the Fund was frozen, put “under review”, in 2015.

That review has not been conducted or completed, and the Fund has not been re-opened. The Fund has now been closed for longer than it was open so we are calling on the Government to restore it with immediate effect.

More United ran a campaign to restore the fund and Lib Dem MPs, including Christine Jardine and Stephen Lloyd, wrote to the Government to tell them of the importance of supporting disabled candidates.

This week, they won a legal challenge and secured the fund for the 2019 elections.

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A new campaign to restore the political disability fund

I’m taking part in a campaign launched by the cross-party group More United today, to restore the fund that supports deaf and disabled people into political office and I’m asking you to join me by sharing this video and signing the petition here​​

This campaign matters a lot to me. And this is why.

I was the first deaf British Sign Language-user elected to public office, when I was elected as a London Borough councillor in 1990 and again as a District Borough Councillor in 2007.  From 1992, I lobbied Parliament and ministers to provide greater funding for candidates with disabilities. In 1997 and 2001, I stood for Parliament on a self-funded basis, raising money to pay for BSL interpreters and support in written English.

For the 2015 General Election, I obtained a grant of £40,000 from the Access to Elected Office Fund, which I used to participate in the Liberal Democrat candidate-selection process. But I could not have participated without the Fund’s support.

And​, last year,​ I was effectively barred from standing in the 2017 General Election because of the absence of the Fund.

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Access to Elected Office Fund for disabled people extended to 2015 and annual limit doubled to £40,000

Don’t be afraid of what people see or think of you – try and rise above your disability, keep your chin up and do what you can during the election. Be inspired by what people like the late Lord Ashley of Stoke, Anne Begg and David Blunkett did. I have lost many times over the years, but I don’t give up! At the end of the day people will recognise what you have tried to achieve and admire you for the successes you have achieved.

So says Liberal Democrat candidate David Buxton. David is deaf and has been able to take …

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