David Cameron faced mounting pressure over social care on Tuesday after charities warned that pensioners are being condemned to a life of misery.
A coalition of 78 charities and campaign groups wrote to the Prime Minister, calling for urgent social care reforms and that the current postcode lottery of access to care was leaving many elderly people in a state of "quiet desperation."
Under the current system, pensioners have to pay the cost of their own care if they have savings or assets worth more than £23,500.
The charities urged the PM to make social care reform his "personal mission."
The letter was released on the eve of Wednesday's Queen's Speech, with some groups fearing it will not include a Bill on social care.
The letter, whose signatories include Age UK, Saga and the Local Government Association, said: "Social care is in crisis - the system is chronically underfunded and in need of urgent reform.
"Without this, too many older and disabled people will be left in desperate circumstances - struggling on alone, living in misery.
"The system is a lottery. Some of us will be lucky enough never to need care, but there are many of us who need support at some stage in our lives to carry out everyday tasks and could lose everything - our savings, our dignity, our independence."
A white paper on long-term care will be published in June, but will focus only on the quality of care provision, with the issue of paying for it relegated to a "progress" document.
Carers Trust chief executive Anne Roberts told BBC Breakfast: "We are calling on the government to take this opportunity to look at how social care is funded and to look at how you better join up health services and social care. There is a real opportunity to reform social care and we really are asking the Prime Minister to take a lead on doing that."
An Age UK report published in January found that spending on social care for the elderly in England was falling in real terms.
The charity said that £7.3 billion was being budgeted this year - the same as in 2011 - but that the sum represented a drop of 4.5 per cent once inflation was taken into account.
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