Shortfall in pothole repair budgets hits new high, research shows

Councils in England and Wales said they received just two-thirds of what they needed during the current fiscal year to prevent local roads from falling into further disrepair, according to local authorities’ annual road maintenance survey (alarm).

This resulted in a total road maintenance budget deficit of £1.3 billion.

Potholes in England and Wales: one-off cost to repair
(PA charts)

That’s a jump of more than a fifth from the previous 12 months and represents the highest figure in 28 years of Alarma reporting.

The Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA), which commissioned the investigation, said this is because budgets have not kept pace with cost increases caused by inflation.

Rick Green, who chairs the AIA, said: “Highway engineers can only do so much with the resources they are given and should be applauded for the steps they take to keep roads safe.

“We all appreciate that there are tough decisions to make with lawsuits and pressures on the public purse coming from all areas, but not investing in local road maintenance only leads to worsening conditions, impacting other public services provided. locally, a growing bill to fix the problem and more complaints from road users.

“To really improve conditions and create a safe, resilient and sustainable network, what is needed is a longer-term funding horizon from the central government with more budget caps for roads.

Graphic showing how a pothole forms

“This would help local authority engineers to effectively plan and implement more efficient works to protect and improve the resilience of the local road network.”

Green added that the £200m increase to fill potholes on local roads in England over the next financial year, announced in Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s budget last week, was welcome but “not enough” as ” It will do little to improve overall structural conditions. and halt further decline.”

The report found that the one-time cost of repairing all local roads is now £14bn and would take 11 years to complete.

It also revealed that 18% of the local road network, nearly 37,000 miles, has been assessed in poor condition with less than five years of life remaining.

Three out of four local authorities in England and Wales responded to the survey.

David Renard, transport spokesman for the Local Government Association, which represents local authorities, said councils are “working tirelessly” to repair roads, but the backlog is “increasingly difficult to address”.

The AA’s head of highway policy, Jack Cousens, described the state of some roads as “an international embarrassment” and called for “serious investment” after “years of plastering solutions”.

His RAC counterpart, Nicholas Lyes, said the survey results “do not surprise anyone forced to put up with our potholed roads.”

A spokesperson for the Department for Transport said: “We are investing over £5bn from 2020 to 2025 in maintaining local roads, and recently announced an additional £200m in budget to fix millions of potholes a year.

“This will help make travel smoother and safer for everyone, repair dozens of bridges and repave roads across the country.”


Leave a Reply