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National Highways publishes inaugural social value report

National Highways says it is committed to making a positive impact on local communities

Last year the government-owned agency responsible for looking after the motorway and trunk road network in England and Wales launched a social value plan which set out a number of targets for 2022-24 besides maintaining and improving the roads.

These included making sure that at least 5% of its workforce is enrolled on formal aprpenticeships or graduate schemes within five years and ‘respecting communities’ by reducing air pollution, noise and water quality along road corridors.

More than 50 suppliers signed up to the plan and this year some £220,000 has been spent through the regional social value fund.

This week the agency published its first Delivering Social Value annual report outlining the work it is doing in the community.

Social value projects are focused in four key areas:

  • Economic prosperity, such as supporting local businesses, voluntary and charitable enterprises and contributing to apprenticeships and education
  • Improving the environment, which includes working towards ‘net carbon zero’ carbon emissions, enhancing the natural environment and respecting neighbouring communities by reducing impact on air quality, noise and water quality,
  • Promoting community wellbeing, such as promoting safe and active travel, improving community amenities and the connections between communities, supporting education and heritage programmes and helping to create nice places for people to live, and
  • Equality, diversity and inclusion which in this case means creating a ‘more inclusive and accessible’ road network and contributing to employment and opportunities for all.

Among the social value project undertaking in the past year are a scheme to develop land next to the A120 in Essex into a natural habitat for wild birds, donating 50 laptops to military veterans to help with their job-hunting efforts, committing £1.8m to a social enterprise led by the Royal British Legion Industries which employs veterans and people with disabilities to make road signs, and sending four traffic officers from the East Midlands on multiple aid trips to Ukraine to deliver supplies to refugees.

National Highways’ executive director of commercial and procurement, Malcolm Dare, said: “The 4,500 miles of motorways and A-roads that National Highways manages and operates enable our society and economy to flourish. While our focus is to deliver a high quality, safe road network, we’re passionate about making a positive impact on our local areas and communities.

“For us, social value isn’t a ‘nice to have’, it is integral to everything we do. With our partners and colleagues on board, I’m excited about what we can achieve for our local areas, communities, and the environment in the next 12 months and beyond.”

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