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Role details

National Highways - Non-Executive Director

Application deadline 19 December 2023


National Highways
Sponsor department
Department for Transport
Audit and Risk
Number of vacancies
Time commitment
27 day(s) per annum
£25000 per annum
Length of term
Application deadline
11:59pm on 19 December 2023

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Timeline for this appointment

  1. Opening date

    6 November 2023

  2. Application deadline

    11:59pm on 19 December 2023

  3. Sifting date

    23 February 2024

  4. Interviews expected to end on

    22 March 2024

Timeline dates are only an estimate and can change

About the role


About National Highways

Safe and reliable roads are essential for the economy and public wellbeing. National Highways manages and improves the UK’s motorways and major A-roads, helping its customers have safer, smoother and more reliable journeys. Beyond that, National Highways needs to demonstrate that it can meet the government’s commitment to zero carbon, within its committed timescales. National Highways also needs to exploit the full potential of the digital revolution, both in delivery of its activities, and in its communications with road users and stakeholders.

Over the last five years, Government’s Road investment strategy (RIS1), which covered the first road period from 2015–20, represented the biggest investment in the UK’s roads in a generation. National Highways received £15.2bn which it has invested in road improvements and managing and maintaining the network, whilst achieving £1.4bn of efficiency savings. For financial year 2020, National Highways managed £126bn of assets. Working with its many partners and suppliers, National Highways is now undertaking the second roads investment period from 2020-2025 (RIS2), delivering £24 billion of investments to improve the road network.

National Highways’ three main overarching imperatives are:

  • Safety - everyone who uses and works on National Highways roads should get home safe and well. Fatalities and injuries can only be reduced by planning and designing roads that meet the highest levels of safety.
  • Customers - with more than four million daily journeys, National Highways roads play a vital part in connecting the nation. National Highways knows the value of customer feedback and work closely with Transport Focus and the National Highways Customer Panel to seek its users’ views on a range of fundamental matters including journey time, surface quality, roadworks management, roadside information and safety.
  • Delivery – it is the job of National Highways to deliver safe and reliable roads. Since 2015 it has invested billions in new routes and extra capacity, such as the A14 in East Anglia and the ‘spine’ of all lane running up and down the country.

On 11 March 2020, as part of the Budget, the chancellor announced a £27.4 billion budget for investment in the Strategic Road Network (RIS2) between 2020 and 2025. This was recently revised to £24 billion through the spending review. The focus for National Highways will be safer roads, addressing environmental issues, delivering efficiency and maintaining efficient supply chains.

Over the coming decades, the UK population will experience a shift in demographic, size, habits, and geographical location. These changes will undeniably have an impact on demand on the Strategic Road Network (SRN), especially against the backdrop of predicted population growth. RIS2 includes a performance specification, setting out six outcome areas on which National Highways will focus: improving safety for all, fast and reliable journeys, a well maintained and resilient network, being environmentally responsible, meeting the needs of all users and achieving real efficiency. With the above to deliver on, National Highways priorities over the next five years include:

  • The construction of road infrastructure using digital technologies is likely to undergo a sustained period of evolution. The likes of data, technology, data processing capability and artificial intelligence will not only offer huge opportunities to the SRN, but also to the wider infrastructure sector. National Highways will be focused on finding and implementing the best innovation and new technology which can help save lives and enable more efficient ways of using roads. That includes adopting more technologies to manage the capacity and availability of the network and enhance communication with vehicles and their users.
  • Greenhouse gas emissions in the UK will be cut to almost zero by 2050, under the terms of a new government plan to tackle climate change. As such, decarbonisation will be a big focus for all, especially those in the transport industry. National Highways plans to address issues beyond the traditional focus of road investment, including helping reduce the nation’s carbon footprint as an immediate priority.
  • Balancing its funds across enhancements schemes and operating, maintaining and renewing roads.
  • Preparing National Highways for RIS3 (projects to undergo in 2025-2030).
  • Reducing the number of people killed or seriously injured by 50%, against the 2005–09 baseline.
  • Save customers over 20 million hours currently lost in traffic congestion.
  • Provide £27 billion of benefit for road users and the economy through improving journey time, stimulating employment and supporting housing and business developments.

How National Highways works:

National Highways receives funding from the Department for Transport in five-year cycles called Road Investment Periods. This enables National Highways to plan for the long term, and provide excellent value for money for its customers, the taxpayer and the country. National Highways operations are split into seven regions: North West, North East, West Midlands, East Midlands, South West, South East and East.

Each region has a control centre and manages a programme of repairs and maintenance for its part of the network. National Highways has around 6,000 colleagues around the country and work with an extensive supply chain to deliver the UK’s motorways and major A-roads. This also includes uniformed traffic officers, who patrol key areas of the network. The activities of National Highways are regulated by The Office of Rail and Road.

For more information about National Highways, please see the Strategic Business Plan and Delivery Plan.

Introduction from the Secretary of State

Dear Applicant,

Thank you for your interest in the Non-Executive Director role on the Board of National Highways.

This is an important time for the Department for Transport. We are investing heavily in infrastructure and public transport to improve journeys, boost connections, level up the country and support economic growth. Central to our mission is delivering transport that works for everyone in our society.

We are recruiting for a Non-Executive Director to join our team on the Board of National Highways. National Highways is a government body which plans, designs, builds, operates and maintains England’s motorways and major A roads.

On 11 March 2020, the chancellor announced the second Road Investment Strategy (RIS2) to run from 2020 and 2025 that is valued at £24bn. The focus for National Highways will be safer roads, addressing environmental issues, delivering efficiency and maintaining efficient supply chains.

The position requires a qualified accountant with experience of risk management. The appointed candidate must be familiar with operating at Board level, demonstrate strategic and analytic thinking and possess strong interpersonal skills. The successful candidate will provide challenge and support to a wide variety of management and operational issues and contribute to the effective strategic and operational leadership of National Highways.

We strongly welcome applications from all backgrounds. As part of the Department’s commitment to diversity, we believe our public appointments should reflect our customers - the travelling public – who come from all walks of life and have different experiences. We very much welcome fresh talent, expertise, and perspectives, to help us better understand the needs of the communities we serve and support better decision making for all. This includes people who may have never applied for a public appointment – but could bring new ideas, insights and energy.

If you are interested in the role and work of National Highways, I would like to encourage you to apply.

Rt Hon Mark Harper MP

Secretary of State for Transport

Role description

National Highways is seeking a Non-Executive Board member to join its Board and to chair the Audit and Risk Committee (ARC). The successful candidate, through their membership of the Board, will provide challenge and support to a wide variety of management and operational issues and contribute to the effective strategic and operational leadership of National Highways.

The role of the ARC is to help National Highways in fulfilling its oversight responsibilities with respect to monitoring the integrity of the financial statements, reviewing its governance, internal control and risk management systems and monitoring the effectiveness of the internal and external audit services. The successful candidate will add value by offering independent constructive challenge to the operation of the Board, contributing towards the Board’s primary aims, which include:

  • Providing sound advice to the Chair and Chief Executive;
  • Preparing for and making an effective contribution to the National Highways Board and executive/ NED meetings;
  • Dedicating time to specific projects within National Highways, providing valuable input and advice to the executive team;
  • Maintaining appropriate links to the Department for Transport, and broader stakeholder groups to help manage the organisations reputation;
  • Effectively discharging the duties and responsibilities of a NED and an ARC Chair;
  • Providing strong and constructive challenges to the executive team to ensure that it delivers the approved strategy, and support the executive team in discharging their leadership responsibilities to National Highways;
  • Collectively ensuring that decisions made by the Board follow proper procedures and are supported by sufficient high-quality information; and
  • Ensuring that National Highways is run effectively, in line with best practice for non-departmental public bodies and Managing Public Money requirements.

Person specification

Essential criteria

1. An understanding of how to operate at Board level and of corporate governance with the ability to challenge and support complex delivery;

2. A qualified accountant with relevant senior financial expertise gained within complex organisations;

3. Experience of risk management;

4. Strategic thinking with an ability to independently analyse complex issues and promote innovative thinking across challenging environments;

5. Strong interpersonal skills and experience of working with stakeholders, with the ability to build relationships and to support and/or constructively challenge the executive as appropriate.

Application and selection process

How to apply

If you wish to apply for this position, please supply the following by 12 December. Any applications submitted after the closing date, or that are missing any of the following documents, will not be accepted.

  • A CV or equivalent biographical information (maximum two sides A4, minimum 12 font) setting out your career history and including details of any professional qualifications.
  • A short supporting statement (maximum two sides A4, minimum 12 font) setting out how you meet the essential criteria – make sure you refer to the contents of this document and provide specific examples.
  • A completed diversity data form (Appendix B).

National Highways are leading on the recruitment for this appointment and would be happy to answer any questions you have regarding the role. Please contact

DfT’s dedicated Public Appointments Team are also at hand talk through the Public Appointments process and answer any questions you might have:

Please send your completed documents to 

The Advisory Assessment Panel reserves the right to only consider applications that contain all of the elements listed above, and that arrive before the published deadline for applications.

Overview of the application process

This role is being competed in accordance with the Governance Code (January 2017)[1], which sets out the regulatory framework for public appointments processes. The Code is based on three core principles – merit, openness, and fairness. 

The selection panel for this appointment competition is: the National Highways Chair, Nick Joyce (DfT, Director General) and Sarah Philbrick.

National Highways will acknowledge your application and keep you updated on the progress of the competition.

At the short-listing meeting the selection panel will assess each application against the essential criteria and decide who to invite for interview. 

Interviews are expected to take place in central London and to last for between 45 and 60 minutes. Further details about the format will be provided to you in advance.

The decision to appoint to this role rests with the Secretary of State and the Prime Minister. Appointable candidates may be invited to meet with the Secretary of State, or another Department for Transport Minister, before they make a final decision.

Please note: Expenses incurred by candidates during the recruitment process will not be reimbursed except in exceptional circumstances and only when agreed in advance with National Highways.

You can expect the recruitment process to take approximately 6 months, however, applicants will be kept informed of progress.

Advisory Assessment Panel (AAP)

The selection panel for this appointment competition is: the National Highways Chair, Nick Joyce (DfT, Director General) and Sarah Philbrick.

National Highways will acknowledge your application and keep you updated on the progress of the competition.

Advisory Assessment Panels (AAP) are chosen by ministers to assist them in their decision-making. These include a departmental official and an independent member. For competitions recruiting non-executive members of a board (apart from the Chair), the panel will usually include a representative from the public body concerned.
AAP’s perform a number of functions, including agreeing an assessment strategy with ministers, undertaking sifting, carrying out interviews in line with the advertised criteria and deciding objectively who meets the published selection criteria for the role before recommending to ministers which candidates they find appointable. It is then for the minister to decide who to appoint to the role.

Eligibility criteria

In general, you should have the right to work in the UK to be eligible to apply for a public appointment.

There are a small number of specialist roles that are not open to non-British citizens. Any nationality requirements will be specified in the vacancy details.

The Government expects all holders of public office to work to the highest personal and professional standards. 

You cannot be considered for a public appointment if:

  • you are disqualified from acting as a company director  (under the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986);

  • have an unspent conviction on your criminal record;

  • your estate has been sequestrated in Scotland or you enter into a debt arrangement programme under Part 1 of the Debt Arrangement and Attachment (Scotland) Act 2002 (asp 17) as the debtor or have, under Scots law, granted a trust deed for creditors.

When you apply, you should declare if:

  • you are, or have been, bankrupt or you have made an arrangement with a creditor at any point, including the dates of this. 

  • you are subject to a current police investigation.

You must inform the sponsor department if, during the application process, your circumstances change in respect of any of the above points. 

When you apply you should also declare any relevant interests, highlighting any that you think may call into question your ability to properly discharge the responsibilities of the role you are applying for. You should also declare any other matters which may mean you may not be able to meet the requirements of the Code of Conduct of Board Members (see Outside interests and reputational issues section below)
If you need further advice, please contact 

Security clearance

The successful candidate will be required to undertake Baseline Personnel Security Standard checks in line with the Civil Service guidelines. Additional Security Clearance may also be required for certain roles. However, where this applies, candidates will be notified during the appointment process. Further information on National Security Vetting can be found on the website here.

Additional information for candidates

Equality and diversity

We encourage applications from talented individuals from all backgrounds and across the whole of the United Kingdom. Boards of public bodies are most effective when they reflect the diversity of views of the society they serve and this is an important part of the Government’s levelling up agenda.
We collect data about applicants’ characteristics and backgrounds, including information about people’s educational and professional backgrounds, so that we can make sure we are attracting a broad range of people to these roles and that our selection processes are fair for everyone. Without this information, it makes it difficult to see if our outreach is working, if the application process is having an unfair impact on certain groups and whether changes are making a positive difference.
When you submit your application, your responses are collected by the Cabinet Office and the government department(s) managing your application. The data is used to produce management information about the diversity of applicants. You can select “prefer not to say” to any question you do not wish to answer. The information you provide will not be seen by the Advisory Assessment Panel who review applications against the advertised criteria and conduct interviews.

Disability confident

We are a member of the Government’s Disability Confident scheme. We use the Disability Confident scheme symbol, along with other like-minded employers, to show our commitment to good practice in employing people with a disability. The scheme helps recruit and retain disabled people. 
As part of implementing the scheme, we guarantee an interview for anyone with a disability whose application meets the essential criteria for the role, set out in the advert, and who has asked that their application is considered under the scheme. Indicating that you wish your application to be considered under the scheme will in no way prejudice your application. By ‘minimum criteria,’ we mean that you must provide evidence which demonstrates that you meet the level of competence required under each of the essential criteria, as set out in the job-advert.
When you apply you will have the opportunity to select if you would like your application considered under this scheme.

Reasonable adjustments

We are committed to making reasonable adjustments to make sure applicants with disabilities, physical or mental health conditions, or other needs are not substantially disadvantaged when applying for public appointments. This can include changing the recruitment process to enable people who wish to apply to do so.
Some examples of common changes are:
  • ensuring that application forms are available in different or accessible formats;
  • making adaptations to interview locations;
  • allowing candidates to present their skills and experience in a different way;
  • giving additional detailed information on the selection / interview process in advance to allow candidates time to prepare themselves;
  • allowing support workers, for example sign language interpreters;
  • making provision for support animals to attend.
When you apply you will have the opportunity to request reasonable adjustments to the application process.

Principles of public life

Holders of public office are expected to adhere to and uphold the Seven Principles of Public Life. These are:
  1. Selflessness - Holders of public office should act solely in terms of the public interest.
  2. Integrity - Holders of public office must avoid placing themselves under any obligation to people or organisations that might try inappropriately to influence them in their work. They should not act or take decisions in order to gain financial or other material benefits for themselves, their family, or their friends. They must declare and resolve any interests and relationships.
  3. Objectivity - Holders of public office must act and take decisions impartially, fairly and on merit, using the best evidence and without discrimination or bias.
  4. Accountability - Holders of public office are accountable to the public for their decisions and actions and must submit themselves to the scrutiny necessary to ensure this.
  5. Openness - Holders of public office should act and take decisions in an open and transparent manner. Information should not be withheld from the public unless there are clear and lawful reasons for so doing.
  6. Honesty - Holders of public office should be truthful.
  7. Leadership - Holders of public office should exhibit these principles in their own behaviour and treat others with respect. They should actively promote and robustly support the principles and challenge poor behaviour wherever it occurs.

Code of conduct for board members

The Government expects all holders of public office to work to the highest personal and professional standards. In support of this, all non-executive board members of UK public bodies must abide by the principles set out in the Code of Conduct for Board Members of Public Bodies. The Code sets out the standards expected from those who serve on the boards of UK public bodies and will form part of your terms and conditions of appointment.

Management of outside interests and consideration of reputational issues

Holders of public office are expected to adhere and uphold the Seven Principles of Public Life and the Code of Conduct for Board Members of Public Bodies. Before you apply you should consider carefully: 
  • any outside interests that you may have, such as shares you may hold in a company providing services to government; 
  • any possible reputational issues arising from your past actions or public statements that you have made; 
  • and/or - any political roles you hold or political campaigns you have supported; 
which may call into question your ability to do the role you are applying for.
You will need to answer relevant questions in relation to these points when making an application. Many conflicts of interest can be satisfactorily resolved and declaring a potential conflict does not prevent you from being interviewed. If you are shortlisted for an interview, the panel will discuss any potential conflicts with you during that interview, including any proposals you may have to mitigate them and record that in their advice to ministers. Alongside your own declaration, we will conduct appropriate checks, as part of which we will consider anything in the public domain related to your conduct or professional capacity. This may include searches of previous public statements and social media, blogs or any other publicly available information. The successful candidate(s) may be required to give up any conflicting interests and their other business and financial interests may be published in line with organisational policies. 
Details of declared political activity will be published when the appointment is announced, as required by the Governance Code (political activity is not a bar to appointment, but must be declared).

Status of appointment

As this is an office holder appointment, you will not become a member of the Civil Service. You will not be subject to the provisions of employment law.

Appointment and tenure of office

Appointments are for the term set out in this advert, with the possibility of re-appointment for a further term, at the discretion of Ministers.  Any re-appointment is subject to satisfactory annual appraisals of performance during the first term in the post. There is no automatic presumption of reappointment; each case should be considered on its own merits, taking into account a number of factors including, but not restricted to, the diversity of the current board and its balance of skills and experience. In most cases, the total time served in post will not exceed more than two terms or serve in any one post for more than ten years

Remuneration, allowances and abatement

Remuneration for this role is treated as employment income and will be subject to tax and National Insurance contributions, both of which will be deducted at source under PAYE before you are paid.
You can claim reimbursement for reasonable travel and subsistence costs which are properly and necessarily incurred on official business, in line with the travel and subsistence policy and rates for the organisation to which you are applying. We will reimburse all reasonable expenses including T&S and further expenses in line with National Highways policies.

Pension and redundancy

This is an office holder appointment and does not attract any benefits under any Civil Service Pension Scheme. You will not be eligible for redundancy pay as you are not an employee. No other arrangements have been made for compensation upon the end of your term of appointment because an office holder who is appointed for a limited duration would have no expectation of serving beyond that period.

Application feedback

We will notify you of the status of your application. We regret that we are only able to offer detailed feedback to candidates who have been unsuccessful at the interview stage.

How to complain

We aim to process all applications as quickly as possible and to treat all applicants with courtesy.
Please contact the team at National Highways in the first instance if you would like to make a complaint regarding your application at will acknowledge your complaint upon receipt and respond within 15 working days.

Data protection

The Cabinet Office will use your data in line with our privacy policy.