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Highways Agency: Political, Economic, and Social Trends Essay

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Updated: Apr 8th, 2022


England’s road network comprises roads referred to as motorways and major other superhighways. The case study looks at the small percentage of road considered to be under the super highway category known as ‘A’. The road accommodates most of the road traffic inclusive of all massive freight. The networks of roads within England are considered by the government of the day to contribute and play important role in the development of commerce and industry (Lucas, 2000).

Construction of infrastructure ensures that various cities, towns and major deports are accessible through transport. This is considered major part of the transport system since it also links various factories and other important institutions. The issue of roads within England is safeguarded by the Highways Agency which is identified as part of the executive agency. The body ensures that all operations within the network are supervised adequately.

The Agency was started as a result of the government’s aim of providing sustainable transport system capable of supporting economic growth. The Agency works under principled objectives of providing safe roads which ensures reliable journeys and used by informed travellers (Arrow, 1995).

The Highway Agency s endowed with the responsibility of ensuring that congestion is minimal and all the safety requirements by the road users are adhered to.. The Agency works not for personal financial gain but for the public interests which is the case for all publicly-funded bodies. It is the agency’s duty to spend money wisely and cost effectively through Parliament.

The body is ultimately accountable to the public for the nature of services they offer (Lucas, 2000). The road network is maintained by taxpayer’s money and as such they have a right to know how their hard earned money is spent (Hart and Milstein, 2003).


The policy framework for the agency is set by the government, therefore opening the Agency to effects as a result of political changes of directions.

For instance, resources could be transferred from roads to rail transport as a result of change of government policies. Encouraging economic growth is the central aim of government policy. Investment companies feel comfortable selling goods and services within the growing economies.

At the same time they enable creation of jobs to the entire population since active road networks encourages smooth transportation of goods from one point to another. Raw materials are needed by factories, shelves need to be kept well stocked by retailers or they risk losing business. Even internet businesses, for example, Amazon need to distribute physical products to customers.

The government is committed to increasing capacity on some of the busiest roads in order to improve on the nature of the infrastructural network. Increased capacity means more goods can be carried and less congestion experienced by pedestrians and motorists. This leads to long-term benefits despite the short-term cost involved in the current constructions.

In the process of improving the efficiency of the road network, the Highways Agency is responsible for effective spending of taxpayers’ money. As a result of England’s dense population, it is not possible to continue building more and more roads as this has financial, social and environmental impacts (Hopwood, 2005).

For instance, the new y-passes might have to pass through countryside or close to residential estates. The Agency continues its services of delivering conventional road widening schemes while at the same time extending hard shoulder running to more key sections of motorway for the purposes of helping keep traffic moving as part of the new National Roads Programme. This will improve the efficiency of the strategic road network and provide value for money to the taxpayer.

It is important to know the political environment in which you operate for several reasons. First of all, the political environment affects legislation and policies which in turn dictate on the happenings within the environment. Legislation covers taxes, distribution of resources, economic stimulus policies, infrastructure among others all of which affect a business. Tax cut in certain industries stimulate growth and investment in such sectors.

Good infrastructure encourages investment; the same applies to stimulus policies the government develops. In the case of the Highway Agency, developing the transport infrastructure leads to an increase in the capacity of the busiest roads meaning more goods can be carried with less congestion experienced which is good for individuals and businesses alike. Government support is also good for business.

In the case of the Highway Agency, the government’s support is evident in many circumstances. The government’s support and commitment for the development of transport infrastructure is evident and leads to increased capacity, less congestion and overall economic growth as a result of the improved infrastructure.


The UK economy went into recession in the year 2009 and since then it has experienced tremendous contractions. This has caused businesses and individuals to cut back their spending leading to mass lay-offs from different sectors of the economy. Despite the ailing economy, forecast reveals that traffic is bound to increase in the long-run but experience short term fall in traffic levels.

As a result, more pressure will be put on motorways resulting into an increase in traffic. Another potential implication of the recession for the Highways Agency is by spending money on road renovations which would have an impact on the business cycle. The government needs to encourage people and businesses to spend in order to stimulate the economy. This can be done by using a combination of monetary and fiscal measures.

Altering the rates of interest is using monetary measures while fiscal measures concern levels of taxation and public spending. The governments respond to recessions by increasing public spending is the position taken by many economists. This is known as providing a fiscal stimulus- building Britain’s future.

The Highways Agency is being used by the government to boost public spending and stimulate the economy by bringing forward £400 million of spending on new and improved roads. Up to £100 million of this money is being put towards bringing forward the project to upgrade the A46 in Nottinghamshire to dual carriageway standard and provide bypasses for two villages.

The project will be completed and opened to traffic some five years earlier than originally planned. To get motorways ready for more hard shoulders running schemes and carry out numerous additional smaller road improvement schemes, the Agency will have to deliver extra work orders.

Knowledge of the economic environment is critical for the success of a business. Interest rates, fiscal measures, economic stimulus, public spending and economic status are factors that influence the economic environment. In this case, with the UK economy in recession and the economy contracting rather than growing businesses are severely influenced towards the negative. People and business were forced to cut back on their spending hence forcing companies to lay-off a number of workers.

An environment with low interest rates makes it easier to get capital for investment making it a better business environment. Economic stimulus as in the case of Highway Agency where the government brought in £400 million of spending on new and improved roads is good for business. The government’s response to the recession by encouraging public spending, known as fiscal stimulus, made the environment conducive for business investments.


The activities of the Highways Agency seems to be directly affected by social factors since the population’s reactions always reflect current needs within the population. Such reactions tend to have direct impact on the opinions concerning traffic volumes. Consumers are very important entities in the economic network hence the plan of the Highway Agency to make contacts with the customers for the purposes of adapting to societal changes (Ekins, 2005).

The nature of the traffic flow five decades ago was much different to what is experienced currently. This is attributable to rapid population growth and improvement in social status. Most individuals own motor vehicles in the current time hence majority choose to travel using their private means. The Highway Agency is taking socially acceptable measures to help road users make their journeys safely, in most reliable sense and without any form of delay in addition to expanding the capacity of the entire road.

The Agency seeks to provide motorists with better traffic information both before and during their journeys hence helping them plan routes and make choices about when to travel. The Agency at the same time aims at influencing people’s travel behaviour. It is working with large companies encouraging their staff on sharing cars while journeying to and from work.

Patrolling the motorways all day long and working hard towards reduction of the traffic hold-ups caused by incidences such as accidents. They also carry out more road-works during night hours when the traffic flow is low hence experiencing fewer incidences of delays (Elkington, 1994).


Knowing and understanding your target market and the way in which those people operate is critical for business. Keeping track of societal changes is also important. In the case of the Highway Agency, it is noted that more households own motor vehicles as compared to earlier years of the 1950’s when motorways were first designed and traffic placed much lower.

It’s also noted that many people choose to drive rather than use public transport. Keeping track of such information, social trends allows organizations to design products which correspond to societal needs and at the same time anticipate their needs as a whole.

In this case study the trends include fast paced lifestyles, more impatient attitudes and people are less tolerant of delays. Effects of economic downturn are evident despite small percentage of it which seems hidden. The less obvious effects of economic recession normally vary across markets depending on the country’s governing system.

In this case, England’s system is normally inclined towards infrastructural development. Such system has the capability of shaping the various complex interactions between the public and private institutions.

The government plays a big role in an economic system since it has the capability of enhancing the economic functions through provision of security, establishment of legal system safeguarding the construction of basic facilities including infrastructure. And at the same time, supervising Agencies involved in the provision of safety within the economic cycles, hence reducing costs of expenditure.


Arrow, K. (1995). Economic Growth, Carrying Capacity, and the Environment. Science, (268), 520–21.

Elkington, J. (1994). Towards the sustainable corporation: Win-win-win business strategies for sustainable development. California Management Review 36 (2), 90-100

Ekins, P. (2005). Eco-efficiency – Motives, drivers, and economic implications. Journal of industrial ecology, 9(4).

Hart, S.L. & Milstein, M. (2003). Creating sustainable value. Academy of Management Executive, 17(2).

Hopwood, B. (2005). Sustainable Development: Mapping Different Approaches. Sustainable Development, (13), 38-52.

Lucas, M. (2000).Understanding Business: Environments. Routledge: London

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