The National Association of Care Catering (NACC) has called for meals on wheels to become a statutory responsibility for councils after it found provision of the services continued to fall.
The association said the services were 'heading for UK-wide collapse' after its 'damning' report revealed that just 29% of UK local authorities run a service like meals on wheels, down from 48% in 2016.
The NACC said there were ‘potentially disastrous ramifications’ of losing the services, which support people to live independently by reducing the risks of social isolation and malnutrition.
In a letter with other signatories including Age UK and Care England, the NACC has called on the Government to consider meals on wheels a statutory requirement and give councils direct funding for the services.
NACC chair Neel Radia said: ‘Removing a preventative service for the most vulnerable in our communities is short-sighted.
‘With the NHS in long-term crisis it is obtuse to add to the public health burden by cutting an ill-health prevention and support service, that is of itself a cost-effective way of supporting older people.
‘The answer is to give councils the direct funding to support meals on wheels and ensure the service has a long-term future.’