Councils have drastically raised the threshold for when they are prepared to help elderly people or those with disabilities / Corbis

The leading charities worry hundreds of thousands of elderly and disabled people were losing out on council-funded care because of austerity cuts

Major reforms to England’s social care services, introduced today, are “built on sand”, a coalition of leading charities has said, because they are not backed up with extra money.

The Care and Support Alliance (CSA) said that despite “bold” changes brought in by the Care Act 2014, hundreds of thousands of elderly and disabled people were losing out on council-funded care because of austerity cuts over the past five years.

The Care Act introduces new rights for people who use care services, and places new obligations on councils in England to provide support that stops people’s condition from getting worse. Care is a devolved matter in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Some of the Act’s reforms come into force today, while other changes, including a £72,000 cap on the amount of money people pay for their own care, will be introduced next year.

Recent research by the London School of Economics has estimated around 500,000 elderly and disabled people who would have received care in 2009 are no longer entitled to it because of cuts to services. The social care sector is projected to be £4.3bn short of its funding needs by 2020.

Richard Hawkes, chair of the CSA, a group that includes Age UK, the Alzheimer’s Society and Carers UK, said: “The Care Act is a bold and ambitious piece of legislation…but it will only live up to its promise of a genuinely preventative system that promotes wellbeing if it is properly funded.”

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