The United Kingdom’s Prime Minister Theresa May last week appointed a “minister of loneliness” after accepting a series of recommendations from the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness.
May said in a press statement that for far too many people, loneliness is the sad reality of modern life.
According research by the London School of Economics and Political Science, the UK’s “epidemic of loneliness” costs are estimated at £6,000 per person for a decade of an older person’s life in health costs and pressure on local services.
However, they also say that for every £1 spent on preventing loneliness, there’s the potential to save £3.
In other research in conjunction with the Jo Cox National Commission on Loneliness, the cost of loneliness to UK employers is put at £2.5 billion a year.
According to this research, loneliness experienced in the UK represents a significant cost to UK employers, both via its impacts on the health of employees and those they care for, and via its impacts on employee wellbeing and thus on productivity and staff turnover.
In the past decade, loneliness has increasingly come to be regarded as a serious issue affecting well being, health, and a range of other outcomes. Loneliness is a related, but distinct concept from social isolation, focusing on how people feel about their contact with other people.
“Whilst many people may experience loneliness from time to time, when individuals feel lonely most, or all of the time, the implications in terms of well being and health can be serious. Our focus in this study is on this form of ‘extreme’ loneliness. While loneliness is often discussed as an issue relating to older people, studies have shown that loneliness can and does affect people across all age groups. A conservative estimate suggests just over 1 million workers experience loneliness in the UK.”
According May’s press release, appointing a minister for loneliness is the first of several recommendations that she hopes to implement from the Joe Cox report.