Stirling MSP Bruce Crawford has strongly welcomed the launch of a new fund aimed at bringing more disabled people into politics.
The Access to Elected Office Fund Scotland (AEOFS), worth £200,000, will be geared towards enabling more disabled people to stand as candidates in the upcoming local government elections in 2017.
The fund will cover costs for additional support – such as communication aids and transport. The Scottish Government say this latest action is part of a series of policies aimed to ensure equality and opportunities for all.
Crawford said: “Everyone should have equal access to politics, no matter their own personal background or whether they are disabled or not – and this funding will help ensure this is the case by alleviating some of the additional costs that disabled candidates can encounter.”
Certain groups in society are significantly underrepresented at local government level and beyond, and Crawford said the AEOFS was crucial to a wider strategy of support to mitigate underrepresentation.
The Stirling MSP added: “It is vital that barriers are broken down to encourage people from all areas of society to get involved in politics – which will help make policies more representative of society as a whole.
“The fund isn’t about giving anyone an advantage, but rather levelling the playing field and making it fairer for everyone.”
A campaign dedicated to encouraging more disabled people into Scottish political life, One in Five, have also welcomed the fund but have said it is not only financial barriers that need to be tackled.
The campaign was in Holyrood on Thursday to launch its new discussion paper, Scotland 2021: Our plan to turn One in Five into a reality, alongside Scotland’s only self-identifying disabled MSP, Jeremy Balfour, who represents the Lothians regions for the Conservatives.
A Stirling graduate, Jamie Walker, is among the campaign group’s top team of ambassadors.
by Michelle Henderson