The Welsh assembly government has extended funding for learning difficulty advocacy groups after an influential report warned services could close without new cash.
The report found two-thirds of independent advocacy groups relied solely on the assembly’s advocacy grant scheme to meet running costs. The British Institute of Learning Disabilities, which carried out the study, said groups were concerned that they would be unable to find alternative funding when the scheme runs out in March.
Consequently, the assembly government has agreed to extend the scheme, which has allocated £1.15m to 33 groups over the past three years, to 2008.
The bulk of future money will go to sustaining existing services, though all projects will be assessed and ones found to be failing will lose their funding.
Liz Neal, director of Mencap Wales, said independent advocacy was important because some people were suspicious of council-funded services.
The BILD report also found there were gaps in learning difficulty advocacy provision for ethnic minorities, people with mental health problems and those with profound difficulties.