PENSIONERS should go back to work because loneliness is more deadly than smoking, a senior Downing Street adviser said the other day.

Not having someone to share problems with has a key impact on mortality rates. David Halpern said working for longer helped with this.

Halpern is director of Downing Street’s behavioural “nudge unit” which advises government on ways to encourage people to change behaviour, without using compulsion or banning things. Halpern said most over-75s felt lonely “all or most of the time”.

“Work matters, particularly for older people, not just for money but absolutely for social contact,” he said. “We know smoking is really bad for you. But much worse are things like social relationships.

“If you have got someone who loves you, someone you can talk to if you have got a problem, that is a more powerful predictor of whether you will be alive in 10 years’ time, more than almost any other factor, certainly more than smoking.”                                   –SST