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ITV News investigation reveals the desperate wait elderly and vulnerable face for social care

The elderly and vulnerable are facing desperate waits for social care in England, despite being told they qualify for council funded care visits.

An ITV News investigation found people waiting over six months for their promised care at seven different councils.

And one local authority admitted leaving someone in limbo for over a year before their care package could begin.

In total, 42 councils - over half of the 80 which responded - said they had recorded waiting times of over a month.

Thousands of people in December were waiting for home care. Credit: ITV News

It comes just weeks after we revealed one in five councils in England are still commissioning 15-minute social care packages despite a government pledge to abolish them.

But our research suggests many people aren't even getting that - stuck instead in hospital or having to rely on families to get by.

We found that in one week in December, there were 2,351 adults across England waiting for their promised home care package to begin.

2,351
Number of adults who were waiting for home care package to begin in December

Michael Noble, 71, saves the council thousands caring for his wife Lynne but the respite he was promised last year has never arrived.

"It isn't a life really, a lot of the time," he said. "I'd love to live a life rather than just go through the motions."

The longest wait - at 377 days - was in North Somerset.

The local authority told ITV News the delay was due to the specialist nature of the care required and said short-term support had been offered.

But most councils gave no reason for waits that had stretched into months.

The number of days recorded in the longest wait for social care, in North Somerset.

The leader of Kirklees council David Sheard told us "Any wait for care is regrettable".

His council reported 32 people waiting for care - in one case for 181 days.

Councillor Sheard told ITV News the local authority has already had to close two museums and reduce library hours in order to prioritise social.

But he believes that by the end of next year, government funding cuts mean schooling and social care will be the only services his council will be able to pay for.

He said, "At the moment, in this year's budget we are spending £800,000 a week from our reserves on social care. At that rate our reserves will run out in September and then no one can tell us what we can do. The only thing we can do is to stop doing anything else."

The Department of Health said long delays are unacceptable. Credit: ITV News

The Department of Health admits some parts of the country are failing to provide the right care.

A spokesperson said: "Very long delays like these are unacceptable – vulnerable people must get prompt, dignified care. While many local authorities are already providing high-quality social care services, we will continue to challenge and support those not currently doing so.

"We have provided councils with up to £7.6 billion of dedicated funding for social care over the course of this parliament – significant investment to help care for our ageing population."