Industry Information

Real Social Value Matters to Real People

June 1, 2022

Within the infrastructure sector we have a good idea of what we mean by social value. We have policies, case studies and data to define what social value means to us.

If you asked a member of the public what type of social value they expected to be delivered through infrastructure projects, they might look a bit puzzled. Maybe they’d struggle to give you a coherent answer.

‘This is what happens when you ask the wrong question (or the right question in the wrong way). Ask somebody what could make their life better and you may be into a more fruitful discussion.’ – Octavius Infrastructure’s Sustainability Director, Cat Cliffe.

At the most general level most people want access to a good, secure job as a foundation for their life. Access could relate to skills, or simply being able to get there quickly and at a reasonable cost. If they have impaired mobility or vision, access takes on a different meaning.

Individual Needs

An efficient transport link can also mean different things depending on individuals and their needs. It could be improved connectivity to the motorway network, a transport hub so they can switch easily between transport modes, or it could mean a dedicated cycle route segregated from traffic.

‘Many things are generators of social value. Engage with communities and you’ll find countless local services and facilities that need help. You won’t find the answers in your social value policy statement. The value that people notice comes when you move from the general to the highly specific.

‘In other words, we’re talking about culture and a way of doing and measuring things, rather than a list of typical activities you can tick off from a list.’

In the transport infrastructure sector, what we build and how we build it, has an impact far beyond the simple use of an asset. We collect social value data from every project, quantify it and report on it openly. But our most important metric is whether people noticed a difference because we were involved.

To learn more about our approach to delivering social value visit our transport infrastructure resource centre or contact Mike Todd (

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