Infrastructure projects fail to deliver much of their social value potential

Infrastructure projects are missing opportunities to employ jobless people, bring on specialist supply chain businesses, improve local air quality and bring on other elements of social value according to the findings of a study published last week.

The study, co-funded by the Institution of Civil Engineers’ Research and Development Enabling Fund and consultancy, Useful Projects, found that infrastructure projects fail to include social value considerations beyond the procurement and construction phases. The study report said “infrastructure should go beyond basic functionality and work to improve socio-economic inequalities, create jobs for previously unemployed people and provide broader benefits for communities based on local needs.”

The report says “The benefits that infrastructure projects can generate are not, however, limited to delivering the basic functionality of a metro system or a water treatment works.” It includes recommendations for local and national Government, infrastructure clients and industry associations including calls for:

  • greater ambition in producing social value beyond apprenticeships and the involvement of small businesses in the supply chain; and

  • exploiting opportunities throughout the project cycle from investment case to decommissioning to create social value.