Appraising transport business cases solely from the Value for Money (VFM) framework, without considering social value criteria, can lead to several disadvantages for rural areas. Some of these disadvantages are:
Neglecting the social impact: The Value for Money (VFM) framework only considers the economic benefits of a transport project, which may not be enough for rural areas where the social impact of transportation is equally important. For example, a new road might increase economic activity and disrupt a fragile ecosystem, negatively impacting the local population’s livelihoods.
Ignoring externalities: The Value for Money (VFM) framework focuses on a project’s direct costs and benefits and often neglects externalities such as pollution, noise, and health impacts. Rural areas may be particularly vulnerable to such externalities since they usually have a low population density, which means that any negative impact can significantly affect the community.
Inadequate coverage of local needs: The Value for Money (VFM) framework may not consider the specific transportation needs of rural areas. For example, a project that aims to increase transportation speed in rural areas may not address the need for accessible public transport, which is often challenging in rural areas.
Limited engagement with the community: The Value for Money (VFM) framework often prioritises efficiency over community engagement, leading to a lack of consultation with the local population. This can result in transport projects that do not meet the needs and expectations of the rural community.
Limited consideration of non-economic values: The Value for Money (VFM) framework does not consider non-economic values, such as cultural heritage or quality of life, which can be crucial in rural areas. For example, a transport project that involves building a new road through a historic village may negatively impact the area’s cultural heritage.
In conclusion, appraising transport business cases solely from the VFM framework can lead to a narrow and incomplete understanding of the benefits and costs of transport projects in rural areas. It is essential to consider social values criteria to ensure that the projects meet the specific needs and expectations of the rural community and promote sustainable development.