Meals on wheels deliveries for the elderly and vulnerable have seen a dramatic decline under the coalition, analysis by the Labour party has found.
In Nottingham, the number of meals delivered went down from 165,000 in 2010 to 115,000 in 2014 - a fall of 31 per cent.
Nationally, the research shows that number has dropped by an estimated 63 per cent over the same period.
Bulwell MP Graham Allen said: “It is deeply concerning that there has been such a sharp drop in the number of people receiving Meals on Wheels.
“Many elderly people rely on them to keep healthy. By ensuring elderly people eat properly it will help them keep their independence for longer and it will mean there is less strain on the NHS and our care home system. It is also a way of socialising and keeping isolation away.
“Local councils are having to make some tough choices they do not want to make. However, the Government’s programme of spending cuts has forced councils into this position. They should do more to protect frontline services like Meals on Wheels and promote and encourage their use so that more elderly people receive the benefits of Meals on Wheels.”
The largest fall has been in the past 12 months when there was a national fall of over 125,000 people receiving Meals on Wheels.
Mr Allen says this shows the cuts are starting to have an effect on frontline services.
Louise Burfitt-Dons, the Conservative candidate for Nottingham North, said: “The news that the Labour run Nottingham City Council has reduced meals on wheels over the last five years by nearly a third to vulnerable people who look forward to the visit which is often the highlight of their day is indeed distressing news. It is regrettable they have chosen to make cuts in such a heartless area when other choices are available to them.”
The figures were uncovered through Freedom of Information requests submitted by Liz Kendall, shadow minister for care and older people.
In Nottinghamshire, between 2009/10 and 2014/15 the number of meals dropped by a third. Councillor Muriel Weisz, chair of the county council’s Adult Social Care and Health Committee, said: “The number of meals at home that we provide for Nottinghamshire residents has fallen by around a third in the last four years due to increased competition from private meal delivery services and ready meals available from supermarkets. However, we still recognise that this is a vital service. Around 97 percent of services user respondents said the service provided by our delivery drivers was excellent or good in a recent survey, so our service is very popular with users.”