Recent spending cuts in the area of adult social care raise policy concerns about the proportion of older people whose need for social care is not met. Such concerns are emphasised in the context of population ageing and other demographic changes. This briefing summarises research published in Population Trends no. 145 which explores the concept of 'unmet need' for Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) and Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs), using data on the receipt of support (informal, state or privately paid for). The results show that each of the three different support sectors tend to provide help for different kinds of need, and that worryingly, there is a significant level of 'unmet need' for certain activities.