Almost seven million people in the UK – 13 per cent – do not have someone they would call a close chum, up from one in 10 (10 per cent) when the same question was asked in 2014 and 2015, charities Relate and Relationships Scotland say.

The charities’ report, You’re Not Alone – The Quality of the UK’s Social Relationships, also found that almost half (45 per cent) of UK adults felt lonely at least some of the time and almost a fifth (18 per cent) felt lonely often or all of the time.

Based on a survey of more than 5,000 people, the report found that almost one in six (17 per cent) said they never (5 per cent) or rarely (12 per cent) felt loved.