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‘Meals on Wheels’ reaching fewer elderly people

The number of people receiving 'meals on wheels' services from councils has more than halved over the last five years, Freedom of Information requests have found. In addition to providing vulnerable people with food, the deliveries also meant elderly people were receiving daily contact with other human beings.

According to the Labour Party, 296,000 people were previously receiving food deliveries, and the number has now dropped 63% to 108,857. The largest drop was took place over the last two years, when the number of people receiving the service fell by 49%.

This latest news comes after many councils were forced to stop meals on wheels services altogether, due to budget cuts coinciding with a rising cost of proving the service.

Liz Kendall, Shadow Minister for care and older people, said of the findings, "having a decent meal and contact with someone at least once a day is a lifeline for many elderly people. Removing this support isn’t good for them and it’s a false economy too, if their health suffers and they struggle to cope, and they end up having to go into hospital or a care home.”

Councillor Izzi Seccombe, Chair of LGA's Community Wellbeing Board, said the delivery cuts are part of a wider issue with care for the elderly, claiming that councils are under pressure to save £2.6bn in the next year.

Fiona Lowry, CEO at The Good Care Group, said: “We all need nutrition and human contact in order to survive and thrive, and elderly people are no exception. They deserve to be well-nourished and happy within the comfort of their own homes.”