Sam Dick, Director of Research, Policy and Campaigns at the Campaign to End Loneliness, said: 

“Several aspects of the budget could have a significant impact on tackling loneliness. We welcome the investment in mental health crisis services and the introduction of a mental health hotline. Loneliness can have an enormous impact on mental health, contributing to depression and anxiety.

“The budget for smart transport, including on-demand buses, and the investment in reviving the high street, are both important steps towards keeping people connected to their communities. A bus can be the difference between an older person being able to go out and see friends and family, or being isolated at home.  The business rates relief for public toilets will also make a difference to older people. We know that many older people fear going out if there are not toilet facilities easily available. We welcome the steps being taken to make the budget work for older people.

“However, we are disappointed that loneliness was not highlighted as an issue itself. The Prime Minister has recently stated that loneliness sits alongside obesity as one of the greatest public health challenges facing society today. Billions per year is spent on obesity and we want to see similar long-term investment for loneliness, an issue that impacts the health and well-being of millions. Our research shows that for every £1 invested in loneliness you can save £3 in health costs. It pays to tackle loneliness and loneliness will not be ended without long-term investment. The £1.8 million announced earlier this month to unlock community spaces and build social connections, even with the £20 million announced earlier this year, must be just the start of investing in the prevention and alleviation of loneliness”.