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A quarter of UK councils have stopped offering Meals on Wheels since 2014

A quarter of UK councils have stopped offering Meals on Wheels since 2014

24 per cent of the UK’s local authorities have stopped offering a Meals on Wheels service to elderly and vulnerable people since 2014, new research has revealed. Just 42 per cent of local authorities now offer any kind of Meals on Wheels service to elderly and vulnerable people.

The research was commissioned by the National Association of Care Catering (NACC) and it has been released to mark Meals on Wheels Week, starting on Monday 5th November, across the country. The “Meals on Wheels” service, as it is widely known, provides meals and regular checks on older and vulnerable people.

The research also shows that the number of councils subsidising the service financially has also decreased from 80 per cent in 2016 to just 58 per cent in 2018. This reduction in the provision of Meals on Wheels is due to the drastic reduction in Adult Social Care budgets, estimated to be over £2 billion by the Local Government Association.

NACC is calling on the Government to increase funding to communities across the country to secure the future of the Meals on Wheels services. The service brings considerable benefits to its users and is also proven to reduce the pressure on health and social care services by improving the overall health and wellbeing of service users and allowing people to continue living in their own homes.

As highlighted in the research, the North West is now the worst area of the country for Meals on Wheels, with only 13 per cent of councils providing the service, down from nearly half of councils in 2014. It is also slim pickings in the North East, where just 17 per cent of councils offer meals to older people at home. In the East Midlands, nearly four in every ten councils have cut their Meals on Wheels service in the last four years. The North West and North East are areas that have seen the highest cuts to local authorities’ budgets since 2010.

Neel Radia, National Chairman of the National Association of Care Catering, the organisation leading the campaign to maintain and improve the service, said:

“Meals on Wheels are a vital part of social care and a lifeline which helps elderly and vulnerable people to keep a level of independence in their own homes. The meals provided by these services are carefully tailored to meet customers’ dietary requirements, and their loss could lead to malnutrition, greater social isolation and loneliness.

“Meals on Wheels aren’t just about delivering a meal. Service providers regularly check upon elderly and vulnerable people to make sure they are fed and hydrated and that their health isn’t deteriorating. For many older and vulnerable people, the Meals on Wheels delivery might be the only friendly face they see from one day to the next.

 “Just a few weeks ago, the Prime Minister asked postal workers to check on elderly and vulnerable people as part of her new loneliness strategy. Meals on Wheels already provides this vital contact, but when it comes to concrete action to support this efficient and beneficial service, we only see shrinking budgets.”

“The Government have claimed they will bring about the ‘end of austerity’, but vulnerable people are seeing services they depend on disappear because of the squeeze in local authorities’ budgets. The Government should safeguard Meals on Wheels services, by making sure councils have the funding and resources necessary to provide them.

 

View report (pdf)

 

Notes to editors:

  • In October, the Prime Minister revealed the Government’s Loneliness Strategy, including a scheme in which postal workers will check up on lonely people as part of their usual delivery rounds.
  • The NACC has been organising Meals on Wheels Week for over 15 years. Meals on Wheels Week 2018 takes place from 5 to 9 November.

Results of survey on Meals on Wheels service provision, carried out by Association of Public Service Excellence

Country

Region

MOW Service 2014

MOW Service 2016

MOW Service 2018

Change since 2014

Change since 2016

England

East of England

64%

64%

45%

-19%

-19%

 

East Midlands

88%

50%

50%

-38%

0%

 

London

69%

59%

41%

-28%

-18%

 

North East

25%

25%

17%

-8%

-8%

 

North West

48%

17%

13%

-35%

-4%

 

South East

67%

33%

39%

-28%

6%

 

South West

71%

53%

41%

-30%

-12%

 

West Midlands

60%

53%

47%

-13%

-6%

 

Yorkshire & The Humber

50%

44%

20%

-30%

-24%

Northern Ireland

 

100%

100%

80%

-20%

-20%

Scotland

 

94%

75%

61%

-33%

-14%

Wales

 

59%

50%

45%

-14%

-5%

UK

 

66%

48%

42%

-24%

-6%

Source: NACC Community Meals Survey 2018, 2016, 2014.

 

 

Social care funding and the Budget 2018

The Budget has delivered an extra £650 million (1) in funding for social care for 2019/20, of which only £240 million is ring-fenced to adult social care. This leaves £410 million which could be spent on Childrens or adults services. The Budget also announced a further additional funds for Disabled Facilities Grants of £55 million and £84 million, which would be available for up to 20 local authorities to support children staying at home with their families as opposed to going into a care situation. The additional money whilst welcomed by the NACC does not go anywhere near the shortfall in Adult care budgets estimated by the LGA to be £2.3 Billion and there are no guarantees any of this money will alleviate the pressure on the Meals on Wheels Service.

( 1. Page 75, paragraphs 5.15 and 5.16 Budget 2018 Available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/budget-2018-documents )

 

 

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APSE (Association for Public Service Excellence) is a not for profit unincorporated association working with over 300 councils throughout the UK. Promoting excellence in public services, APSE is the foremost specialist in local authority frontline services, hosting a network for frontline service providers in areas such as waste and refuse collection, parks and environmental services, cemeteries and crematorium, environmental health, leisure, school meals, cleaning, housing and building maintenance.

 

 

 

 

 

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