Councils cut back on free adult social care
The moves follow a sharp reduction in central funding for local authorities.
However, the government said it had recently allocated an extra £2bn a year by 2014-15 for social care services.
The survey revealed that 19 local authorities had raised the eligibility bar for free adult social care.
Only 22 councils in England out of the 148 which responded will now fund those assessed as having moderate needs, down from 36 last year.
This category includes people who are so ill or disabled that they have trouble preparing a meal for themselves or taking a bath.
Six councils have now opted to limit help to people in “critical’ need, which includes those suffering from life threatening conditions.
Some authorities say the need to save money has left them with no option but to cut one of their biggest areas of spending.
Andrew Harrop, of the charity Age UK, said people could die as a result of the cuts and many more may land up in hospital unnecessarily.
The government has set up an independent commission on social care, which is due to report in July, and will put forward plans in a White Paper by the end of the year.
A Department of Health spokesman said: “Protecting and improving local social care services is vital, especially for the most vulnerable.
“The coalition government recently allocated extra money – meaning an additional £2bn a year by 2014-15 – to encourage more joined-up working, support the delivery of social care and protect the most vulnerable in society.
“This funding, together with an ambitious programme of efficiency, should enable local authorities to protect people’s access to services and deliver new approaches to improve their care.”