Barriers to political representation: disability and the EnAble Fund

Elizabeth Evans, Stefanie Reher

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report

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Abstract

The Government Equalities Office launched the interim EnAble Fund for Elected Office on 3rd December 2018, in time for the May 2019 local elections in England, and closed on 31st March 2020. The Fund was intended to cover the financial costs of any necessary reasonable adjustments which would enable a disabled person to seek elected office. The Fund was launched in order to help increase access to elected office for disabled people, and in recognition of the fact that disabled people face greater costs when seeking elected office because they are disabled. This report provides an evaluation of the EnAble Fund.

The Fund was administered by Disability Rights UK. Applications to the Fund went through a 2-stage approval process involving an independent panel of experts on disability as well as the Political Groups of the Local Government Association.

In total, 41 candidates were awarded funding. These candidates had a range of different impairments and came from across England. The largest number of applicants came from the Labour Party. The majority of funding awarded was for £700 or less. The most frequent types of support applied for included distribution of campaign material and personal assistants. Of those who received funding, 45% were elected.

The report draws upon a survey of applicants to the Fund, as well as interviews undertaken with the Administrators of the Fund. Applicants were very satisfied with the administration of the Fund, similarly, the Administrators of the Fund were also largely satisfied with the processes and procedures. The report concludes that an earlier launch, as well as a national advertising campaign might have increased the number of applications made to the Fund. The data does not allow a direct causal line to be drawn between the funding and the number of disabled people elected, although the applicants believed the additional funding helped reduce the barriers to elected office.

This research provides the government and political parties with an understanding of how effective the EnAble Fund was in addressing the barriers to elected office for disabled people. This will be used by the Disability Unit as they consider the future of support for disabled candidates and how to ultimately increase participation in public life, as part of the National Strategy for Disabled People.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages24
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jul 2021

Keywords

  • barriers
  • political representation
  • disability
  • EnAble fund

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