The access to elected office fund is an initiative from the Government Equalities Office to help candidates to meet disability-related costs when standing for election. The fund has approved 22 applications to date, with another 32 pending. It is a pilot exercise targeted to run until June 2014, when the Government will review its operation.
I thank the Minister for that reply and for the support that the fund has given to disabled parliamentary candidates in Wales. Will he encourage the Welsh Assembly to consider extending the scheme to include local government candidates as well?
That is obviously a matter for the Welsh Assembly Government. However, with local elections coming up next year, I encourage all Members to publicise the existence of this fund, which meets the additional costs that anyone with disabilities may incur in standing for election—for example, with difficulties in using public transport. The fund is there to enable them to take up their democratic right to stand for office in a way that does not disadvantage them. I hope that more people will access this fund which is available for that purpose.