Council cuts could leave roads neglected, says NAO
By Vivienne Russell | 25 October 2012
Routine road maintenance could be affected by cuts in local authority funding, the National Audit Office warned today.
In a report on the devolution of transport spending to local bodies, the watchdog said councils faced a 28% real-terms fall in grants over the Spending Review period. It also noted that some local transport spending, such as reimbursing bus operators for statutory concessionary fares, involved costs that were beyond councils’ control but would have to be maintained in future years.
‘This means that funding available for other areas of local government spend, including routine highway maintenance, is likely to fall,’ the NAO said.
The Department for Transport recently announced proposals to devolve more funding for major transport schemes to local transport bodies, and is also consulting on devolving bus funding and some responsibilities for rail services to local authorities.
In the light of these plans, the NAO is calling on the DfT to clarify who is accountable for local transport funding, what action it will take if standards are not met and under what circumstances it might intervene at the local level.
NAO head Amyas Morse said today: ‘As the Department for Transport devolves more funding to a local level, it needs to make sure it has the appropriate assurance over the spending. It also needs a clear plan of action establishing how it will identify and intervene in cases of operational or financial failure in transport provision.’