File photo: While they have someone to talk to, they may not have anyone close enough to rely on in times of trouble. Picture: AP

London - Almost everyone has at least one close friend, the ONS report said. 

But while they have someone to talk to, they may not have anyone close enough to rely on in times of trouble.

The survey found that 97 percent of adults say they have at least one close friend, up from 95 percent since 2011.

That suggests that some reports of widespread loneliness among the middle-aged and elderly may have overestimated the extent of isolation.

The ONS said: "However there has been a fall in the proportion of people saying they have someone to rely on a lot in case of a serious problem.

"This fell from 86 percent in 2011 to 84 percent in 2014."