The Conservative Party would commit £1 million to helping disabled people become MPs if they win the general election.
On the face of it, this sounds like good news. Surely having a more diverse parliament would lead to a more equal society. But is £1 million really going to make much difference? And what exactly would the money be spent on?
Well… apparently the Access to Public Life Fund would cover:
“the costs of adapting premises to make them accessible, sign language interpreters, specialised equipment, travel and support workers.”
Now, I hate to point out the obvious, but shouldn’t this already be paid for? The Disability Discrimination Act, which hs been around for over a decade, makes it quite clear that employers have to make reasonable adjustments to recruitment processes and in the workplace, which would include, you guessed it:
“adapting premises to make them accessible, sign language interpreters, specialised equipment, travel and support workers”.
Providing these simple things is a duty of law. Any employer who doesn’t make reasonable adjustments could find themselves in an employment tribunal and end up paying unlimited compensation.
But, what really bugs me is the idea that it’s just these practical barriers than lead to exclusion. What about making children with disabilities believe that a career in politics is an option for them? What about advocacy, proper access to education and listening to disabled people’s opinions on subjects other than their disability?
All of this requires a real cultural shift and bigger financial commitment than a measly £1 million, which might sound good in the papers but amounts to less than 10p for each disabled person in Britain.
Top tip Dave- the Access to Work fund is a good place to look if you need government support making adjustments for your disabled employees. And I’ve a feeling their budget is a little bit more than £1 million.