In recent years understanding and tackling loneliness has been a significant focus in the UK. Now more than ever, it is important that statistics reflect the world we live in, and that they are accessible to those who need them in order to provide services and support.

Since 2019, and throughout the pandemic, as part of our ongoing work regulating statistics, we have been keeping abreast of statistics on loneliness. We have been encouraged to see there have been several positive developments which have improved the available statistics.

This systemic review provides an overview of the currently available statistics on loneliness, explores the needs of users of the statistics and provides some suggestions that would increase the public value of statistics on loneliness.

Why this is important

Statistics on loneliness are important on many levels.

  • UK government and devolved administrations require data and statistics on the national prevalence of loneliness to develop national policies to prevent, combat and tackle loneliness.
  • Local authorities need area specific data and statistics to target policy and allocate funding to help organise and run both preventative and support services.
  • Academics require data on demographics and protected characteristics to research the relationships between loneliness and vulnerable groups.
  • Charities and community groups need data on their communities and local areas most at risk to help them target charitable services that combat loneliness and to allocate funding to enable this.

To be truly valuable, official statistics should help inform decisions made by individuals and groups across society. As part of our review we spoke with a range of users of statistics including government policy officials, loneliness charities and academics. We asked them how useful they found the current statistics and for their thoughts on the current evidence base on loneliness.

Who we are

The Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) is the regulatory arm of the UK Statistics Authority. We provide independent regulation of all official statistics produced in the UK. Our vision is statistics that serve the public good. This means that statistics published by public sector bodies should be produced in a trustworthy way, be of high quality, and provide value by answering people’s questions.

As an independent UK-wide regulator, we are in a unique position to take a broader look at issues of importance to society and to make the case for improved statistics across organisation and Government boundaries.

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