What we do

Because the UK government is now providing Highways England with greater decision-making powers and increased, longer-term funding to manage the Strategic Road Network ( SRN ), it requires independent assurance about the levels of performance and efficiency that Highways England is delivering. Our independent monitoring and enforcement will provide that assurance, and we will publish an annual report setting out our findings.

At a high level our role has four main aspects:

  • to monitor how well Highways England is delivering against the Performance Specification, Investment Plan and aspects of its licence, to publicly report our findings and to advise the Secretary of State;
  • if there are problems with delivery, to require improvement and potentially levy a fine (together, 'enforcement');
  • to advise the Secretary of State on the development of the next Road Investment Strategy (RIS) including advice on challenging and deliverable efficiencies; and
  • to advise the Secretary of State on any other relevant issues as requested.

Overall, in carrying out this role we intend to deliver a step-change improvement in transparency in the roads sector. The monitoring framework will require Highways England to publish far more information on its plans and performance, and we will make public our assessment of its operational and financial performance each year. Importantly, improved transparency will allow other stakeholders to play a more informed role in holding the company to account, to complement our work.

Further details of the scope of our role are set out in a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Department for Transport (DfT) and ORR. This specifies that the role also includes:

  • benchmarking of the company's performance;
  • assessing the company's continued compliance with the assurance arrangements in sections 7.2 to 7.8 of the framework document, and in the delegations letter;
  • assessing whether a proposed future RIS is deliverable and challenging;
  • providing advice on further topics, linked to our duties, as may be requested by the Secretary of State;
  • carrying out further investigations which we believe to be justified; and
  • assuring our own work.

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What we do - ORR's function for the roads