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Government accused of making it more difficult to for disabled people to become MPs

Simeon Hart, a deaf candidate, hits out at ‘heartless’ closure of scheme to help disabled people with campaigning costs

Disabled protestors demonstrate past the Houses of Parliament in 2011 Copyright Getty

The government has been accused of making it more difficult for disabled people to become MPs after it scrapped a scheme to help them with the extra costs of campaigning in elections.

Simeon Hart, who is deaf and uses sign language and is contesting the Oldham West and Royton by-election on December 3, hit out at the “heartless” closure of the Access to Elected Office for Disabled People Fund.

The scheme, which ran for three years on a pilot basis, provided grants of between £250 and £40,000 for disabled people bidding to become MPs, councillors or elected mayors.

The money could be used for “disability-related costs” such as transport, sign language interpreters or carers to provide support. A statement on the fund’s website says it has closed and adds: “A decision about its future will be announced following an evaluation of the pilot.”

Mr Hart, who is standing for the Green Party, said: “Becoming a candidate in elections and by-elections is supposed to be open to anyone eligible in the UK. Yet my experience has been a challenge and I know that many people with a disability will be put off trying to become an elected politician.

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