Becoming a supplier

Our suppliers are critical to our success as a business and how we deliver safe and reliable journeys for our road users. Find out how to access supplier opportunities here.

Becoming a supplier

The type of the work undertaken by our supply chain is extremely diverse. It ranges from investment planning, through the life-cycle of solution design and construction, into operating and maintaining the network and beyond into post-project evaluation and customer service management. We also procure ancillary services such as organisational change, commercial management, marketing services, insurance advice, facilities management and IT services. 

Benefits of working with National Highways

A government backed, five-year funding cycle provides confidence and visibility of a long-term programme of work. Funding certainty means we are able to work closely with suppliers to innovate and develop new approaches to create added value for our business and road users.

We engage regularly with suppliers to:

  • consult on new initiatives
  • explore market opportunities
  • share expertise and network
  • develop capacity and capability across the infrastructure sector

We follow fair and prompt payment initiatives that incorporate the use of Project Bank Accounts (PBA). Suppliers working on projects that use PBAs are assured prompt payment as they do not have to wait for higher-tier contractors to process their payment; instead they receive it directly through a ring-fenced bank account specific to the project they are working on.

What we expect from our suppliers

Performance is measured through a standard framework and suppliers are expected to:

  • work collaboratively with us, our stakeholders and other suppliers.
  • deliver on time and to cost, demonstrating year-on-year efficiency.
  • drive innovation and Lean ways of working
  • align with National Highways’ imperatives, goals and values; focusing on achieving customer satisfaction in terms of safe roads, reliable journeys and informed travellers
  • maintain our positive reputation and high standards
  • be transparent and vigilant in relation to fraud and conflict of interest in their business and extended supply chain
  • provide a fair and equal workplace, and fight bullying and discrimination
  • work together across the extended supply chain to prevent modern slavery
  • manage and deliver against all aspects of the contract, adhering to all appropriate legislation, including data protection obligations and prompt payment initiatives.
  • support environmental priorities around consumption, production and sustainable communities.
  • highlight and share best practice across the business and with our extended supply chain.
  • employ fully qualified and registered operatives with relevant NHSS certification and registration/skills cards.

Procurement at National Highways

Our Contracts Pipeline sets out our commercial and procurement approach for the current funding period, and our Contracts Pipeline Datasheet details planned, current and completed procurement activity and is updated regularly.

There are two ways to secure work with us

  • Indirectly through a first-tier supplier working on behalf of National Highways as part of their extended supply chain
  • Directly through a contract with National Highways

Indirect route – via our extended supply chain

Most of the services and goods that we procure are provided by multi-disciplinary first-tier suppliers. First-tier suppliers supporting us in the delivery of our plans require their own supply chain to help them deliver this work. This working model provides opportunities for sub-contractors and sub-consultants to work indirectly on National Highways contracts as part of the extended supply chain.

Suppliers that have been successful in the procurement process and are working directly with National Highways can be identified in a number of ways:

National Highways suppliers procure work throughout the life of their contracts or frameworks and opportunities with them can be identified in a number of ways:

  • Websites where tender opportunities are published including which is supported by the government.
  • Contacting the supplier directly once identified, either at company or project level.
  • Local meet-the-buyer events often advertised by the Civil Engineers Contractor’s Association (CECA).

Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs)

National Highways is working to support government targets around increasing opportunities for SMEs, and requires its directly employed suppliers to contract at least 25% of their work to SMEs. 

Direct Route – tendering for work directly with National Highways

We have two different procurement routes for the selection of tenderers.

The Restricted procedure requires potential suppliers to go through a full pre-qualification process before being invited to tender for contracts.

The Open procedure does not pre-qualify suppliers. It allows tenderers to self-declare their status against exclusion grounds and only the successful tenderer’s Selection Questionnaire (SQ) response is assessed.

For both procedures, there are three pre-qualification routes:

1. Full pre-qualification for high-value and high-risk works contracts.

2. Mini pre-qualification for lower-value and lower-risk works.

Routes 1 and 2 are aligned to PAS91 - 2013 - the standard pre-qualification questionnaire for the construction industry.

3. Core pre-qualification for goods and services contracts – based on the Cabinet Office core questionnaire mandated for use as stated in Procurement policy note 08/16: Standard Selection Questionnaire.

The contract notice will give details of which procurement route is being followed, who to contact for the contract specific pre-qualification pack and further details about any specific requirements being used in the pack. You can view the National Highways procurement pre-qualification pack on The National Archives website.

Strategic Alignment Review Tool (StART)

As part of the procurement process for some high-value contracts, first-tier suppliers may be required to undergo a StART assessment. We use this assessment process to test how the supplier’s business aligns to our strategic direction and how this is being driven through the supplier’s business and their wider supply chain.

Contract notices state if and how the StART process will be used. In most cases, only successful first-tier tenderers will be assessed and are expected to work with their own suppliers to support the principles of StART through collaboration and effective relationship management.

No suppliers working indirectly will require a StART assessment.

The document links below explain the StART assessment in more detail:

StART Framework and Assessment Guide


StART Best Practice Report

Contract opportunities

There is a range of existing routes to market for those with an interest in working with us. We do not charge a tender fee for any contract opportunities.

Most procurement comes through framework contracts, or indirectly through major schemes and maintenance arrangements. We use our own framework or the Crown Commercial Service (CCS) framework agreements. This is a mechanism for both direct and indirect procurement for specialist products and services.

There is no approved supplier list.

Search for opportunities on Contracts Finder.

For larger contracts, notices are also published on the  Find a Tender Service webpage.

The exact requirements of each contract are set out in the tender documents.

Process for awarding a contract

Tenders for contracts are assessed in three stages:

  1. A panel will judge the content of the submission.
  2. Quality of the submission and financial information is verified.
  3. Prices and availability of key people is validated.

Questions and feedback to:

Jeff Blizard, a former soldier in the Queen’s Regiment diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, was out of work for 10 years. BBMC has supported him on his journey back to full time employment, making road signs

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