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Cuts force a third of elderly meal services off the table

Government cuts have forced a third of Britain’s councils to abolish vital meal services for elderly people, new research showed today.

Campaigners for elderly people say more and more pensioners are at increasing risk of malnutrition and isolation because of these cuts.

The research, published at a “pop-up” luncheon club in the Commons, was carried out by the Association for Public Service Excellence to mark National Community Meals Week.

Local authorities, caterers and campaigners are using the week to highlight the pressure on meal services for older and vulnerable people.

Meals-on-wheels services, lunch clubs and subsidised meals for older people have been hit by the scale of cuts facing local government, the research found.

A series of events are also being organised across the country to highlight the importance of community meals services.

The National Association of Care Catering (NACC), which commissioned the research, stated that the number of community meals served has dropped from 40 million a year 10 years ago to 19 million today.

And it warned that the number of people eligible for community meals has fallen as a result of adult social care funding cuts and changes to the eligibility criteria.

The research shows that more than 1 million older people in Britain are now malnourished.

Nacc chairman Neel Radia believes community meals should be a statutory responsibility for councils to help protect services for vulnerable older people.

“We have to see the wider picture and rather than cut these vital services — begin to see them expand,” said National Pensioners Convention (NPC) general secretary Dot Gibson.

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