A leading user-run disability organisation has revealed that it is facing serious financial difficulties and has issued its staff with redundancy notices while it awaits news on new funding.
Unless the National Centre for Independent Living is able to find alternative sources of funding, it will not have enough money to meet its current operating costs beyond the end of March.
The organisation said it was coming to the end of its current grant from the Department of Health Direct Payments Development Fund and was awaiting news on future funding.
"In part some expected decisions have been delayed due to circumstances beyond the organisation's control," it said in a statement.
But its co-chair, Dave Morris, said he was "confident" that the financial difficulties would be sorted out, enabling the group to continue to operate at the same level from April.
The organisation said it was now working with a range of organisations and individuals to try to find a short-term solution, and was also working with the government to ensure that it could continue in the long term.
Morris said redundancy notices had been issued because the group had to meet various legal obligations, but that staffs' jobs may yet be saved.
Jane Campbell, a member of the board and a previous chief executive, called for the social care sector to gain a better understanding of the support required by user-led organisations.
Morris added: "We all agree that organisations led by disabled people and users of services almost make up a fifth sector and we need the ability to compete in the market with other established organisations.
"We have different needs and they need to be recognised in terms of partnerships."
A Department of Health spokesperson said it was aware of the organisation's position and was committed to working with its staff to try to resolve the issues.
She added that the DH would continue to provide some funding in 2006-7 as part of a continuing project grant.