Social Detriment on InvestmentOn April 27, 2022 by admin
Anyone with an interest in public policy will come across Social Return on Investment (SROI). This is the measure through which investment by this date can be measured as to what they have prevented happening in the future. For example, with Cameron’s 150,000 problem families, by investing in them now they can prevent generations of social services, police callouts, offender management, probation, hospital costs and local council costs.
On the other hand, let us consider the detriment that can occur from an unwise investment.
There is a very strict marmite approach to HS2, the high-speed line that will run from London to Birmingham and be in place by 2026. The argument being presented by Transport Secretary Justin Greening MP is that such a rail link will be an investment in generations for the future, allowing high-speed travel and flourishing communities.
The reality, as a resident of a town with HS1, is starkly different.
The knock-on effect of a high-speed train link could be considered to be Social Detriment on Investment. When the Eurostar, and later, the Hitachi line, were introduced to Kent, we all bought the concept that such a service would bring business to towns in Kent. That people would rent office space only 40 minutes from London rather than paying London prices. That people would move to the area in order to catch the train.
Once the train line was introduced, the initial response was mild. A couple more people increase their average spend on travel and started to catch the high-speed line. Soon anyone who could afford it was catching the high-speed line. The Eurostar was introduced in 1994, but we have yet to see an influx of businesses in Ashford.
Vast amounts of office space is failed to be filled. As a result, office space is exchanged for hectares worth of car parks around the station.
Without office buildings, small community businesses slowly but surely start to fall. There are no longer sandwich shops on the high street to support the office population, the number of little sandwich delivery vans are falling. Choice is now limited to mainstream and ubiquitous.
As these businesses disappear and no businesses take their place, people who didn’t commute five years ago are now forced to as their local jobs dissolve. Office space that is available is only used up by public sector bodies while the rest remains vacant.
Rather like the majority of jobs in Kent, people either work in London or work for the public sector. The closure of Pfizer last year really hasn’t helped.
The people that are now commuting are losing hours of free time. As a result, their children are losing hours of parenting. While, arguably, this increases demand for childminders, the lack of stable parent figures can have a significant detrimental effects on a family. Just as with SROI, it is possible to measure the cost of social services involvement, only in this case increasing not decreasing. From here we could potentially forecast the cost on police callouts, on the courts, on the NHS, on the local council managing ASBOs.
All of a sudden, the £46 billion being invested in setting up HS2 multiplies tenfold as the burdens on the state and the detriment to communities magnify.
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