Outrage as legislation prevents disabled candidates getting financial support from Scottish Government.
Strict rules governing election expenses means disabled people are being discouraged from becoming candidates for next month’s general election.
A Scottish Government fund which was hugely successful in enabling disabled people to become local councillors has been halted ahead of the 8 June snap election for fear of falling foul of Electoral Commission guidelines.
The access to elected office (AEO) fund (Scotland) was administered by Inclusion Scotland and enabled 39 disabled candidates to take part in local elections – 15 of whom were elected to 12 councils.
The fund offered grants to disabled people to help with additional costs they may face in standing for election as a councillor, such as extra transport or sign language interpreters.
It means a disabled candidate will now have to shoulder the considerable costs themselves.
Disabled campaigners believe the Scottish Government has taken the easy option and ditched the fund instead of challenging the Electoral Commission.
James Carnegie, a disabled activist who put himself forward in the 2012 General Election, said disabled people had been let down by both Westminister and the Scottish Government.
“The legal issues are complex and because it’s a snap election there isn’t much time to dispute the legalities,” he said. “It looks like it has been ditched for convenience.”
A UK government access to elected office fund ran from 2012 to 2015 and offered grants of between £250 and £40,000 to disabled people to help with additional costs.
But this too was scrapped, meaning disabled candidates now have no financial support.
Bill Scott, director of policy at Inclusion Scotland, said: “It’s disappointing because, as an organisation, we want to ensure disabled people have the same opportunities as others.