With the general election approaching, I was shocked to read that funding for disabled prospective candidates is no longer in effect. It is therefore unsurprising that there is a starkly low representation of disabled people in parliament. While around 16% of the working age adult population has a disability, they account for less than one percent of MPs.
The fund, Access to Elected Office, was established in 2012 to help disabled people stand for elected office with funding for things like extra transport or sign language interpreters. However, just three years later, it was quietly ‘put on hold’.
It’s not only a shame but a disgrace that in 2017, disabled people are so under-represented in parliament. As CEO of The British Polio Fellowship, I am acutely aware that there is an accessibility problem both nationally and at a local level. Representing 120,000 Polio survivors in the UK living with Post Polio Syndrome (PPS), we witness daily occurrences of truly shocking accessibility provision.
If we cannot redress the accessibility balance in Britain’s most powerful House, then I fear that accessibility legislation and ‘positive talk’ from politicians are merely lip-service to a problem affecting millions. Order, order! We really must do better and put our House in order.
Ted Hill MBE