More than £30m a year could be raised for community projects if a 1p levy was introduced on self-service checkouts, a group of MPs has said.
The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Social Integration has published its interim report on the gap between older and younger people and what can be done to bridge it.
In the report, which was published last week, the group says a 1p levy on each transaction made at self-service machines could go towards schemes that would counteract the potential damage they cause by reducing opportunities for human contact.
The group says the publication of the report, called Healing the Generational Divide, marks the halfway point of its inquiry into the intergenerational connection, with a final report due at the end of the year.
The report says that, although some technological advances bring efficiencies and cost savings, they can come at the expense of everyday human contact.
"If this is the case, then it might make sense to see if a fraction of those cost savings can be captured to [be] put back into initiatives that support greater social interaction, in this case greater intergenerational connection," it says.
"The APPG’s calculations suggest this policy might yield upwards of £30m per year to strengthen intergenerational projects across the country."
The report says self-service checkouts pose a particular problem for older people because they have closed off what might be for some people the only chance to talk to someone else during the day.
The APPG suggests that funds raised by the levy would go straight into local inter-generational projects rather than to a centralised government pot.
The cross-party group of MPs also uses the report to suggest the creation of a new national volunteering scheme that would encourage people to volunteer in their communities when they retire.
The group proposes, too, that the government explores the idea of giving a small tax break to people who commit a set number of hours to volunteering within a public service each month, such as a nursery, school or care home.
Chuka Umunna, chair of the group and the Change UK MP for Streatham, said: "This report sets out the beginnings of a framework where local, regional and national government can work together to foster stronger connections between generations.
"Now, more than ever, we need to act to bring our country back together and move forward as one. That’s why it’s vital we keep talking about what is happening in our society, try to understand why and find solutions that will help heal the generational divide."