Laura Alcock-Ferguson, Executive Director of the Campaign to End Loneliness

“We welcome the findings of Age UK’s new report. The realities of our fast-ageing population are a major concern and must be addressed. Most shocking is how we will see the consequences within the next decade. Loneliness has a devastating impact on physical and mental health . We need to support individuals and communities now before it reaches crisis point and becomes chronic.

“Our research found that the societal and health costs of loneliness (expenditure for visits to GPs, A&E, prescriptions and other health-related costs) comes in at £6,000 per person over ten years. However, for each £1 invested in an effective loneliness intervention, we can expect up to £3 return in health costs. It pays to tackle loneliness and invest in people being able to connect.

“This year, alongside other organisations, including Age UK, we have been calling for and sharing our expertise so that loneliness is measured across all age groups by Government. In February, we convened stakeholders from Government, academia and charities to advise the ONS on how to collect the most useful data for efforts to tackle loneliness. That data will make a huge difference only if the right decisions are made as a result.

“That is why we also support calls for the Westminster Government to introduce a loneliness test. All policies should be looked at through the ‘lens of loneliness’ and whether it helps people make and maintain connections with friends, families and neighbours. Does this policy impact on people being able to connect? Does this bus route being reduced make it harder for older people to get out into their community? We hope to see action on this soon.

“People can and should play their part too, and that is why this year we launched Be More Us: a movement to celebrate and elevate small moments of connection. Our research found that 9 in 10 (88%) people agree that small moments of connection, such as making small talk on the bus or smiling at people, are valuable for tackling loneliness. These small moments are the first step in driving a change in our culture where people take more time to connect. We can all play a part in tackling loneliness and Be More Us is a great way to start.”