Younger people 'have become more isolated since lockdown'

Polling reveals amount of 18 to 24-year-olds who trust neighbours has plunged by 10 percentage points since March

Younger generations have become more isolated and less trusting of their neighbours as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and Government restrictions, according to new research.

Polling carried out for the centre-right think tank Onward found that the proportion of 18 to 24-year-olds who trust their neighbours has fallen by 10 percentage points since March. 

Separately, just two in five (42 per cent) of 18 to 24-year-olds feel more connected to their communities than they did a month ago, compared to 52 per cent who were asked the same question shortly after lockdown was imposed in March.

In contrast, the proportion of 55 to 64-year-olds who trust their neighbours has risen 13 points since the start of lockdown, and the figures show that the over-65s are now almost twice as likely to trust their neighbours as the under-35s.

Onward suggested the lockdown had worsened a generational divide, with older people more connected to their local communities and younger generations left more isolated, having been confined to their homes and unable to attend pubs and social gatherings (watch Boris Johnson announce new restrictions on gatherings in the video below). 

Separately, the proportion of over-75s who favour freedom over security has risen from one in four (24 per cent) to four in 10 (40 per cent) following the lockdown and shielding programmes.

On Monday, Oliver Dowden, the Culture Secretary, will launch a study by Onward on the state of the UK's "social fabric", mapping the areas with the strongest and weakest sense of community.

Will Tanner, Onward's director and a former No 10 aide, said: "Through mutual aid and basic acts of kindness, the coronavirus crisis has reminded us of the enduring importance of community. 

"But Onward's research shows that not everyone has benefited from the resurgence of reciprocity, with younger generations more isolated and less trusting of their neighbours.

"Our research has also shown that younger people are feeling increasingly uncertain about their futures and looking to the Government to provide them with greater security. Meanwhile, older people – many of whom have been shielded for the last six months – are seeking greater freedom, despite the health risks that Covid-19 brings."

According to the polling, by Hanbury Strategy, just 47 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds now trust their neighbours, compared to 57 per cent in March. At the same time, trust among those aged between 55 and 64 rose from 53 per cent to 66 per cent.

Meanwhile, the data shows a drop in the proportion of people who want the Government to focus on giving people more security than freedom. "This is driven by older generations, many of whom have spent the last few months shielding during lockdown," Onward said.