Meals on wheels service dying out as councils slash spending

The slow death of meals on wheels has been revealed, as figures show half of councils no longer provide the service for pensioners.

Analysis by the Telegraph reveals 77 out of 147 councils across the UK do not provide a meals on wheels service at all, as campaigners fear the move is isolating the elderly.

The collapse in the meals on wheels services have taken place at some of the biggest local authorities in the UK, including Birmingham and Manchester, which ended provision in 2012.

In all, 400,000 fewer meals are now being distributed annually as opposed to five years ago, when nearly three million meals were delivered by councils.

Figures obtained by the Telegraph show 45 councils have cut their provision over the period 2015 to 2019, while just six councils have increased meals on wheels provision.

Three councils – Plymouth, Nottingham and Leicestershire – have raised their prices by over 100 per cent in that period, to £6.50, £5.40 and £9,60 a meal respectively between 2011 and 2020.

In England, Kent County Council cut its meals on wheels from over 88,000 a year in 2015 to just under 7,000 in 2019. Ealing cut its annual provision from over 5,200 meals a year in 2015 to zero in 2019, when it completely stopped the service.

In Coventry, the number of meals on wheels services provided annually also halved, from over 26,000 meals in 2015/16 to just over 13,000 in 2019/20, and in Peterborough the figure fell from 16,200 to just over 8,100 meals a year.

In Scotland, meals on wheels were cut to zero from more than 2,500 a year in Argyll & Bute, while they fell from over 57,000 a year to just over 34,000 a year in the Scottish Borders between 2015 and 2019.

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