To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent assessment his Department has made of the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on levels of loneliness and social isolation in (a) Coventry North East constituency, (b) Coventry, (c) the West Midlands and (d) England; and what steps his Department is taking to tackle loneliness and social isolation caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
7 June 2021
DCMS collects data on levels of loneliness in England through its annual Community Life Survey. In addition, the Department commissioned a Community Life Survey Re-Contact Survey last year, to provide data on the period March-July 2020. These sources suggest that prevalence of loneliness has remained similar to pre-COVID levels, with 6% of adults reporting that they are always or often lonely. Community Life Survey data and reports are available online at https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/community-life-survey--2
The Department does not collect robust data on loneliness in local areas. However, DCMS works closely with experts such as the Office for National Statistics (ONS) to monitor other data sources and build our understanding. ONS recently published the first estimates of loneliness at a local authority level. As the ONS report states, because of small sample sizes and large confidence intervals, local authorities should not be ranked against each other. The ONS report is available online at https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/wellbeing/articles/mappinglonelinessduringthecoronaviruspandemic/2021-04-07
The Department is tackling loneliness caused by the COVID-19 pandemic through: providing funding for charities that bring people together; convening organisations across society to act together on loneliness; and public communications to get people talking about loneliness:
In total since the start of the pandemic, over £34 million of the £750 million VCSE funding package has gone specifically towards reducing loneliness, with an additional £50 million going to organisations supporting people with their mental health.
We have established a Tackling Loneliness Network, bringing together over 70 organisations across the public, private and voluntary sectors to share expertise and develop innovative ways to tackle loneliness.
The ‘Let’s Talk Loneliness’ campaign continues to share practical tips and signpost support. Our winter calendar, which ran throughout December, had over 12 million impressions on social media, with a range of corporate and third sector partners promoting our messages on their channels.
Copies of the two annual progress reports on government’s work on tackling loneliness are available in the Libraries of the House and online at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/loneliness-annual-report-the-first-year