This proposal came from a lengthy discussion with Daniel Korski, deputy head of policy at 10 Downing Street and special advisor to the Prime Minister, David Cameron. It was delivered to the policy unit at 10 Downing Street in early 2016.
We propose using an experiential approach to reduce loneliness by encouraging lonely people to spend less time, energy and money on material goods, and more on experiential goods instead.
The insights in Stuffocation (London: Penguin, 2015) suggest a compelling new approach to policy that can effectively and efficiently tackle policy issues in the UK.
This new approach is based on:
Loneliness is as bad for health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. This is worrying for the UK: 10% of Britons often feel lonely; 48% think we are getting lonelier in general. The Care Act 2014 is addressing this.
Our aim is to turn lonely people away from materialism, in both attitude and behaviour, and towards experientialism. This will bring them into direct contact with others. It will make them feel part of a wider community, and more likely to be social. Therefore, it will reduce social isolation and loneliness.
At the end of each stage of the intervention, we will compare participants to a control group, to evaluate if, as predicted by the scientific literature, their attitudes and behaviours are less materialistic and more experientialist, and if they are now less lonely. We will trial this in ever increasing circles.
The next step would be to hone this proposal, which are currently at an early stage of development.
Given the Future Is Here's deep understanding of experientialism, we believe we are well placed to lead these interventions. However, this proposal requires partners. Hence, we would like the Downing Street Policy Unit’s support and assistance to identify: the best partners to develop the design of the interventions and trials (eg, the Behavioural Insights Team); the most appropriate sources of finance (eg, the Treasury and/or the Centre for Ageing Better); any further relevant partners (eg, DCLG, the What Works Network, media, and technology partners).
Our intention is to champion and project-manage these trials in partnership with Greg Wilkinson, who, inter alia, was interim chief executive for the Centre for Better Ageing, and whose input has been invaluable in formulating these proposals.
Subject to success with the interventions in this document, we propose we trial “experiential approaches” for other key policy issues, including: wellbeing, consumer over-indebtedness, inequality, employment, growth, productivity, obesity, education, the environment, immigration, social cohesion.