The report found only 29% of Meals on Wheels services are still in operation across the UK and fewer than 18% in England. Meals on Wheels services support vulnerable people to live independently in the community by reducing the risk of malnutrition, loneliness, or social isolation.
The service is not statutory for local authorities to provide, so councils can remove the service to save money even though BAPEN reports that malnutrition costs the UK taxpayer £19 billion per annum.
As part of this year’s Meals on Wheels Week (30th October to 3rd November 2023) the NACC is calling on Government to:
- Ensure councils receive urgent funding to directly support the continuation of existing Meals on Wheels services including direct funding to reinstate meals on wheels services lost in recent years
- Consider Meals on Wheels a statutory responsibility to safeguard its future
- Consider other additional alternative support such as VAT relief for service providers and help with food and fuel inflation which has impacted on the financial viability of the service
Neel Radia, chair of the NACC, commented: “The benefits of the service far outweigh the costs. Removing a preventative service for the most vulnerable in our communities is short-sighted.
“We need the Government to step up to the plate and deliver the right funding for councils so that they do not face a choice of long-term prevention services for older people facing the axe, whilst at the same time knowing that this approach will push up costs to the public purse forcing more vulnerable people into costly care in either residential or hospital settings.
“It is our assertion that there is a direct link between the decline in public spending on the service and the increase in community-based malnutrition, and that a boost to spending could significantly reduce financial burdens to health and social care systems.”
To read the full report, visit here.