I know I'm not being entirely consistent by recommending the M6 Toll so soon after tipping the A50 as an alternative, but it does have a lot going for it; it's a pleasant drive and I've never encountered a jam there, which is what you'd expect given that its job is to relieve, or at least provide an alternative to, congestion on the main M6 through Birmingham.
The two specific pluses I'd like to highlight, though, are the following. The first is that the M6 Toll seems to be one of the few toll roads in the UK that is willing to issue receipts, which makes it a bit easier for anyone driving for work to reclaim the cost.
The second is that Norton Canes, the only service area on the M6 Toll, is probably the most pleasant place to stop on a long run north on the M1/M6. Now I know that people who spend a lot of time on the road usually say that the independently run Tebay Services further north on the M6 in Cumbria are the best in the country, and that challenging this notion borders on sacrilege. But Norton Canes shows that the big operators - Roadchef in this case - can do a good job too. Norton Canes is stylish and modern, and offers a wide choice. The only problem is that it can get very crowded at busy times, although on my last visit on Saturday evening - see photo - it was more or less empty.