Councils could face £14bn pothole repair bill by 2019

9 Jan 17

Councils could face a £14bn pothole repair bill over the next two years, the Local Government Association has warned.

Citing statistics from the Asphalt Industry Alliance, the cost of repairing potholes has risen from £9.8bn in 2012 to £11.8bn last year. At this rate of increase, costs are projected to rise to £14bn by 2019, more than three times councils’ entire annual revenue spending on highways and transport.

Martin Tett, the LGA’s transport spokesman, said: “This year could be a tipping point year regarding potholes and councils, who have experienced significant budget reductions, now face the looming prospect of a bill of £14bn to bring the nation’s roads up to scratch.

“It is wrong and unfair that the government allocates almost 40 times more to maintaining national roads, which it controls, compared with local roads, which are overseen by councils. It is paramount this funding discrepancy is swiftly plugged.”

The LGA is calling for £1bn in additional funding annually for roads maintenance. It says this could be delivered by investing just 2p per litre of existing fuel duty – and there would be no need to increase existing fuel duty rates.

According to the LGA, the government plans to invest £1.1m in each mile of the national road network, which make up just 3% of the nation’s roads. This compares to the £27,000 per mile councils are able to spend maintaining local roads, which make up 97% of the network.

Tett said: “Our polling has shown that 83% of the population would support a small amount of the existing billions they pay the Treasury each year in fuel duty being reinvested to help councils bring our roads up to scratch.

“Our roads crisis is only going to get worse unless we address it as a national priority. The government’s own traffic projections predict a potential increase in local traffic of up to 55% by 2040. Councils desperately need long-term and consistent funding to invest in the resurfacing projects which our road network desperately needs over the next decade.”

  • Vivienne Russell

    Vivienne Russell is managing editor of Public Finance magazine and publicfinance.co.uk

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