Three out of four local authorities in the UK are rationing social care due to limited resources and increased demand, a new report shows today.
The report, published by the Local Government Association (LGA), says the situation is a result of Britain's ageing population.
"Town halls have found their hands tied because increased demand has placed a huge strain on council budgets," said councillor David Rogers, LGA spokesperson on social care.
"This has left councils with little option but to withdraw services for many who need help with activities such as washing, eating and getting the shopping in."
Three-quarters of councils are now saving their social care functions for those with more than a 'substantial need', according to the report.
Seventy-two per cent of councils no longer provide lower level care, such as help with eating and washing.
Concerns have also been raised about the difficult procedure required to apply for the care.
Mr Rogers said: "The complex system for getting care and support is in desperate need of simplification to make sure that people don't miss out simply because they end up confused and bewildered by the process.
"The myriad of benefits, form-filling and means testing can seem like a bureaucratic merry go round and leave many feeling that they are fighting the system."
Paul Cann, director of policy at Help the Aged, said: "There is a growing crisis in social care, and the gap between need and provision is rapidly turning into a gulf."