Quarter of councils cut Meals on Wheels service, NACC finds

05/11/2018 - 10:09
As part of Meals on Wheels week (5-9 November), the National Association of Care Catering (NACC) has unveiled its latest research revealing that 24% of UK councils have stopped offering the service since 2014.

This means that only 42% of local authorities now offer any kind of Meals on Wheels to elderly and vulnerable inhabitants, compared to 66% in 2014 and 48% in 2016.

On top of this, the number of councils financially subsidising the service has dropped by -22% - from 80% in 2016 to 58% currently. The NACC believes this is due to the ‘drastic’ reduction in Adult Social Care budgets, which the Local Government Association estimates to be over £2 billion.

Calling on government to “increase funding to communities across the country to secure the future of the Meals on Wheels services,” NACC national chair Neel Radia, said: “Meals on Wheels is a vital part of social care and a lifeline that helps elderly and vulnerable people to keep a level of independence in their own homes.

“It is therefore disappointing, if not unexpected, to see a further decline in service provision across the UK. 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 isn’t just about delivering a meal. Service providers regularly check upon elderly and vulnerable people to make sure that 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 has claimed it 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 by making sure councils have the funding and resources necessary to provide them.

On a ‘positive note’ she reassured that NACC members and providers ‘are not giving up on the Meals on Wheels service easily’.

“We have seen exceptional examples of providers thinking differently and finding alternative approaches and models that have enabled them to continue to run the service and, most importantly, continue to benefit the community and the people they serve both today and in the future.

“This is what we are championing during Meals on Wheels Week and I encourage everyone to follow the event on social media and, where possible, take part.”

Alongside the work that the association carries out each and everyday, Meals on Wheels Week 2018 activities include:

Food Poverty Conference – the NACC will focus on Meals on Wheels as part of a round table discussion on tackling food poverty

Case studies – case studies from NACC members showing how innovation and alternative models have enabled services to continue to run will be released during the week, in partnership with Sustain charity

‘VIP on Wheels” – Meals on Wheels services are inviting local dignitaries and celebrities across the country to join a delivery round to see the ‘positive impact’ the service has on service users and the community
firsthand

Survey results on Meals on Wheels service provision, carried out by the 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%

For more information or to see how you can get involved in Meals on Wheels week 2019, visit the NACC website.

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