People in desperate need of care are being forced to wait two months on average to access care services, according to health campaigners.
Healthwatch England says this is creating 'incredible stress' for those seeking an assessment when already approaching a point of crisis.
Healthwatch says public awareness of the assessment process and the support available is too low.
This often means the person being cared for suffers, sometimes ending up in hospital or a residential care home which can limit their independence, affect their quality of life and ultimately cost the NHS and social care sector more money.
The group says 51 of the 152 local authorities it surveyed were unable to provide information on how many carers lived in their area and 72 councils could not say how long carers had been waiting for support.
Healthwatch says more consistent and better data is urgently needed if councils are going to reach out to carers earlier and make a successful case for the necessary resources to meet local demand.
Director Imelda Redmond said the Government's forthcoming green paper on social care provided a 'brilliant opportunity' to ensure that every carer gets the support they need quickly.
'At the moment we have a system that waits for people to ask for help, which usually comes when they are on the brink of a crisis,' she said. 'To support carers effectively services need to be much more on the front foot.’
Responding to the Healthwatch report, Cllr Ian Hudspeth, Chairman of the Local Government Association’s community wellbeing board, said it was imperative that the Government uses its upcoming budget to inject 'desperately needed funding into adult social to ensure its immediate sustainability.'
He said: 'With people living longer, increases in costs and decreases in funding, adult social care is at breaking point.
'Over recent years, councils have protected adult social care relative to other services. But the scale of the overall funding picture for local government means adult social care services still face a £3.5bn funding gap by 2025 just to maintain existing standards.
'The likely consequences of this are more and more people being unable to get quality and reliable care and support, which enables them to live the lives they want to lead.'