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According to recent data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS, April 2018), throughout 2016/17, 5% of adults in England reported feeling lonely “often” or “always”. Younger adults aged 16-24 reported feeling lonely more often than older age groups. People in poor health or with conditions described as “limiting” were also often at high risk of feeling lonely. A previous study by Age UK (2014) had found that two-fifths of all older people, accounting for roughly 3.9 million people, have the television as their main company. Of wider concern is that these figures are much higher for people with disabilities. According to Scope two-thirds (67%) of disabled people have felt lonely in the past year, rising to three-quarters (76%) for working age disabled people (December, 2017).

In response to the growing challenge of loneliness, the government has undertaken a concerted effort to raise awareness of loneliness and isolation, dismantle stigma, and offer practicable guidance on delivering integrated services and care. In January 2018 the Prime Minister announced the long-awaiting Government plan to tackle loneliness. Accepting a series of recommendations from the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness, the Prime Minister appointed a ministerial lead on loneliness. Further measures that were announced include the development of a cross-government strategy on loneliness in England, due to be published later this year and the allocation of a dedicated fund.

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