Local services and activities can help prevent or alleviate loneliness, so it is vital to safeguard them. We recognise that local government is facing major financial constraints from national government, and that commissioners of services have to make tough choices that can lead to funding being removed or reduced.

We also know, however, that services that address loneliness can act preventatively, to reduce or eliminate future costs.

Research shows that loneliness can contribute to serious mental and physical health problems, which require costly health and social care interventions. Investing in services that address loneliness is therefore an investment in public health, and a long-term cost-saving exercise for local authorities. The implementation of the Care Act in 2015 enshrined in law the need to act preventatively and address wellbeing. By supporting the work of loneliness interventions, local authorities can demonstrate their compliance with the act, and also embody the act’s guiding principle of prevention.

We would recommend presenting the above argument to your funder or council, should your service find itself under threat. You may also wish to quote the following statistics and facts, as well as emphasising to funders and local authorities that effective interventions are often community-based and utilise volunteers, so can be relatively low cost.

Research on interventions that reduce loneliness has found that they result in:

  • Lower use of medication[i], fewer GP visits, lower incidence of falls[ii]and reduced risk factors for long term care
  • Fewer days in hospital, physician visits and outpatient appointments[iii]
  • Fewer admissions to nursing homes and later admission[iv]

 You can find more information about the detrimental impact of loneliness on health here, and in our loneliness guidance, which is a vital resource for understanding the picture of loneliness and service provision aimed at commissioners, service providers, clinical commissioning groups, public health teams and anyone interested in addressing loneliness in their community.

[i] Greaves, C.J. and Farbus, L. (2006) ‘Effects of creative and social activity on the health and well-being of socially isolated older people: outcomes from a mulit-method observational study’, The Journal of the Royal Society for the Promotion of Health, vol 126, no 3, pp 133−142.

[ii] Cohen, G.D. et al. (2006) ‘The impact of professionally conducted cultural programs on the physical health, mental health, and social functioning of older adults’, The Gerontologist, vol 46, no 6, pp 726−734.

[iii] Pitkala, K.H. et al. (2009) ‘Effects of pyschosocial group rehabiliation on health, use of health care services, and mortality of older persons suffering from loneliness: a randomised, controlled trial’, Journal of Gerontolgy: Medical Sciences, vol 64A, no 7, pp 792−800.

[iv] Russell DW, Cutrona CE, de la Mora A, Wallace RB. Loneliness and nursing home admission among rural older adults. Psychol Aging1997;12(4):574-89.