Councils will have to provide social care services to all residents whose needs meet a nationally-set threshold, under plans published by the Department of Health.
The new threshold will be “equivalent” to the standard currently used by 130 of the 152 authorities that have adult social care responsibilities, according to guidance from the department.
However, it will be less generous than the standard used by 19 councils, meaning those authorities could rein in their provision.
The three councils that currently use stricter criteria than the new national level will have to extend their services.
Care services minister Norman Lamb said he hoped the new national minimum standard, to take effect from 2015, would be “a starting point for local councils to base their care provision on.”
The department is also planning to set up a new working group of service users, carers, local authorities and academics to suggest reforms to the way in which councils assess people’s social care needs, which is due to begin this summer.