Loneliness Strategy

Part of EU Exit Negotiations – in the House of Commons at 6:13 pm on 15th October 2018.

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Photo of Chris Stephens Chris Stephens Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Fair Work and Employment) 6:13 pm, 15th October 2018

I join the Minister and shadow Minister in thanking you, Mr Speaker, for a beautiful tribute to our colleague Jo Cox, and I welcome her family. As someone who came to this place as part of the 2015 intake, I assure Jo’s family members that she will be remembered quite simply as a bright and brilliant Member of Parliament.

I thank the Minister for her statement, and I am sure that she will agree that social isolation is often little understood and can have an enormous impact on people’s physical and mental health. In January this year, the Scottish Government published a consultation on their new national strategy—one of the first in the world to help tackle loneliness and isolation. However, in a similar vein to the questions from the shadow Minister, we know that poverty can be a key factor in social exclusion. The less money someone has, the less likely it is that they can afford to meet people. They might not have the money for a coffee with a friend or even be able to afford to take public transport to visit a friend. Will the Minister commit to look at the impact of poverty on social exclusion as part of the strategy? Will she also consider the impact of the Government’s social security policies and investigate any correlations between cuts in income and increases in social isolation?