Social isolation and disconnected communities is putting a £731 million strain on the Scottish economy
A growing lack of community is costing Scottish society dear with a a new study revealing the economy is suffering to the tune of £731 million every year as a result of the malaise.
The research, commissioned by Eden Project and The Big Lunch, reveals the annual cost to Scotland’s public services of social isolation and disconnected communities.
It shows that through isolation, demand on health services is increasing to the tune of £107 million each year while other areas such as policing is costing an extra £12 million.
Disconnected communities are also linked to a loss of productivity, with a net cost to the Scottish economy of nearly £252 million every year.
Productivity benefits associated with a happier and healthier workforce is etimated to create a net gain to Scotland’s economy of £352 million - the UK-wide the figure stands at £6.4 billion which is equivalent to 0.34% of UK GDP in 2015.
The study also reveals that neighbourliness has a huge welfare value to the Scottish people, with over £593 million saved each year because of resources shared and help provided by neighbours who know each other.
The Eden Project is an educational charity working to connect people with each other while The Big Lunch works to bring as many people as possible across the UK to have lunch with their neighbours annually on a Sunday in June, in a simple act of community.
Peter Stewart, Eden Project executive director said: “We wanted to find out more about the impact of community-led initiatives like The Big Lunch – both the benefits to individuals’ health and well-being, and the economic impact.
"There is a lot of existing research suggesting that people feel happier, safer and more content when they live in connected communities and know their neighbours.
“However, this study reveals that the financial benefits to individuals and wider society are enormous too. There are more reasons than ever for communities to come together.
"Getting to know your neighbours through an initiative like The Big Lunch will bring you joy and happiness, and will also help save you and the UK money.”