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Investing to tackle loneliness: a discussion paper

Increasing awareness of the effects of loneliness on older people has catalysed new ways of thinking about loneliness and social isolation as central health issues. However, challenges remain in assessing the costs of loneliness to the public sector and in designing and commissioning new services to tackle this issue.

The following paper details work undertaken with Age UK Herefordshire & Worcestershire to design a service that addresses loneliness, particularly among older people. The report introduces potential costs of loneliness to the public sector and sets out our initial findings based on available evidence. It describes one model of commissioning services through a Social Impact Bond, which offers value to both commissioners and service providers. A Social Impact Bond (SIB) is a contract in which commissioners commit to pay investors for an improvement in social outcomes (in this case to reduce loneliness). Investors receive returns if, and only if, these social outcomes are achieved.

We are grateful for the support of the Centre for Social Action Innovation Fund and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (UK Branch), whose grant funding has enabled us to publish this paper.