Umbrella-body calls for more pothole funding for councils

14 Aug 19

Local authorities in England are receiving requests to fix potholes every 46 seconds, figures have revealed.

A total of 700,000 potholes or road defects were reported between April 2018 and March 2019, according to research by the Federation of Small Businesses.

Councils paid out £2m on 7,706 successful claims for vehicle damage as a result of potholes in the last financial year and nearly £1bn was put towards repairs, freedom of information data released today showed.

The umbrella-body for small and medium-sized businesses recommended more funding was handed out to local authorities to deal with the issue. It also suggested they use “innovative technology” to monitor road condition to enable them to identify deteriorating roads.

A simple system for both reporting potholes locally and submitting claims should also be put in place, the federation said.

Mike Cherry, FSB national chairman, said: “These figures show just how widespread the issue is and it’s clear that the government and local authorities need to sit up and take notice.

“Measures like more funding for local authorities and improving coordination between authorities and utility companies, will go some way in helping ease the burden of this ever-growing issue.”

Authorities in the north east received the largest number of pothole complaints with more than 100,000, followed by Yorkshire and The Humber (92,000), the south central regions (nearly 88,000) and the south west (more than 80,000).

The FSB sent FOIs to all councils in England and received a 98% response rate. There are 343 councils in England.

Local Government Association’s transport spokesperson Judith Blake said: “Councils are on the side of the motorist, and are doing all they can to keep our roads safe and resilient, fixing a pothole every 17 seconds. However, councils could do so much more if they are able to invest in looking after our country’s roads.

“Currently, 43 times more per mile is spent on maintaining our national roads – which make up just 3% of all roads – than on local roads, which are controlled by councils and make up 97% of England’s road network.”

Blake acknowledged that councils received £420m to fund pothole repairs in last year’s Budget, but said more was needed in the upcoming Spending Review. 

Last week the government announced there would be a ‘spending round’ in September - no date has yet been fixed - which will be for the 2020-21 financial year. It is expected the full three-year Spending Review will now be next year. 

The Department for Transport has been contacted for comment.

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