The Government should tackle loneliness amongst the over-65s by training those without the skills to use the internet, a think-tank has recommended.
Spending £875m on educating the 6.2 million people who do not have basic digital skills – the equivalent of £141 per person – would yield “huge” economic and social benefits for the UK, the right of centre think-tank Policy Exchange said.
The initial investment in training would be offset by savings of around £1.7bn a year as people moved to digital rather than paper-based and telephone transactions, it added.
Around four out of 10 people aged 65 or over do not have access to the internet at home with more than five million never having used the internet, according to a report by the think-tank.
It said the number of people aged 85 or over is set to double over the next 20 years.
One in 10 people are estimated to visit their GP because they are lonely, with research suggesting that lonely adults are more likely to undergo emergency hospitalisation and early admission into residential or nursing care, it said.