Skip to main content

FHRG - current research and themes

FHRG research themes are regularly updated and refreshed in line with the sector’s most pressing issues – find out about current themes below or click here to find out more about our past themes.

1. Current research

Over the past 12 months, members’ interests have converged around three key themes: carbon measurement & reduction, human capital management (HCM) and future procurements and service delivery model.

These issues are already having a profound impact on FHRG, and other ADEPT council members across the country. The outcomes will be of significant interest to local highways authorities and the wider highways sector.

Theme 1. Climate change impact analysis, carbon measurement & reduction

Climate change and carbon reduction will dominate the work of council service leaders over the next decade and beyond.

We have therefore launched the following research initiatives, all of which will complete over the next 12 months:

  • Scope 1, 2 & 3 Standards, Policies & Guidance (November 2021 to March 2022
  • Scope 1, 2 & 3 Compliance Assessments (December 2021 to May 2022)
  • Integrated with annual VfM Assessments (within the VfM Benchmarking Club)
  • Supporting Live Labs: measuring the real-world performance of Live Labs projects
  • Review of carbon calculators (April 2022)
  • Assessing the many carbon calculators currently in use to provide authorities with an independent assessment of the pros and cons of each offer
  • Carbon Reduction Options Library: collated and curated library of strategic options for reducing carbon (live in October 2022)
  • Supporting Live Labs: all projects documented for sector wide dissemination and learning
  • Supporting ADEPT members more widely by providing researched options for reducing carbon footprints

Theme 2 - Human Capital Management (HCM): highways sector challenges & options

We recently completed a brief survey of members to establish the scale of the human capital crisis within the sector. The results highlighted the scale of resources shortages, the dependence on agency staff, the age of the current workforce, the lack of diversity and poor succession management.

These factors are having a profound effect on the efficacy of current services, and the human capital position is expected to deteriorate sharply over the next five years. Therefore, FHRG is proposing:

  • Member Census (supported by DfT) (commencing March 2022)
  • Current and projected capacity and capabilities; salaries, incentives and succession planning; culture, expectations, attitudes and behaviours; adjacent, provider and market drivers
  • Human capital improvement options (commencing July 2022)
  • Options identification, costs, timescales, and qualified and quantified HCM benefits
  • ‘Do nothing’ consequences analysis

Theme 3 - Future Procurements & Services Delivery Models

Thirteen authorities have now used the toolset developed to help determine the future service delivery model that would best deliver their strategic objectives, optimise value for money and be achievable to attain..
Many more authorities will be seeking new contracts and / or operating models during the next five years, therefore the FHRG is continuing to evolve and refine the tools that underpin Future Services Delivery Options Assessments and has also developed tools and methodologies to support the latter stages of procurement.

This research theme offers:

  • Future Services Delivery Options Assessments Enabling the analysis of 18 different services delivery options relative to the current services delivery approach.
  • Mixed Economy Operating Model Toolset A Best Practice Function-Level Commissioning Framework
  • Template Business Cases for Mixed Economy Operations
  • Template Operating Model for Mixed Economy Operations
  • Provider Relationship & Mutuality Assessment
  • Assessing the challenges and amelioration opportunities for current client / provider relationships

Value for Money Benchmarking Club

This is a mature research theme, with toolsets and instruments refreshed annually. An biennial assessment is offered as part of membership of the FHRG and is also accessible to other ADEPT members for a small fee.

  • Annual VfM Assessment Assesses 160 weighted factors across six dimensions: economy, efficiency, effectiveness, strategic value, stakeholder value and sustainability
  • Aggregated assessments provide a snapshot of the LA sector as-a-whole
  • Services Improvement Plans
  • These follow each VfM assessment and enable services to plan and implement improvements. Progress is reassessed each year

2. Research & Innovation Framework (RIF)

To create and sustain this programme, the FHRG has introduced the Research & Innovation Framework (RIF). This framework enables private sector organisations to sponsor specific research activities, where these align with member interests. To date, the FHRG has received research funding from:

  1. Ringway
  2. Atkins
  3. Breedon
  4. Colas
  5. Department for Transport (DfT)
  6. National Highways

Upcoming discussions with DfT will aim to increase funding for the carbon measurement and reduction research.


Media enquiries: please contact Coast Communications 01579 352600 | VAT number: 337 0556 05 | Website by Cosmic