Councils across England will share an extra £200 million to fix local roads as part of Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s spring Budget.
The extra funding will bolster the government’s Potholes Fund, which currently provides £500m for local authorities to repair damaged roads, meaning councils will be awarded a total of £700m in the 2023/24 financial year.
The extra funding has been welcomed but experts have warned that it doesn’t go anywhere near far enough to tackle the country’s pothole “pandemic”. The cost of bringing pothole-plagued local roads in England and Wales up to scratch has been estimated at £12.6 billion.
The money will go to councils to focus on repairing more minor roads after recent analysis by the Local Government Association showed Government funding for maintaining motorways and major A roads was 31 times higher per mile than for repairing local roads last year.
Delivering his Budget speech, Mr Hunt said the “wet then cold winter” resulted in him receiving “strong representations” from MPs and councillors about “the curse of potholes”.
RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes commented: "While welcome, another £200m is unlikely to make a big difference to the overall quality of our dilapidated local roads.
"We need to significantly increase funding for local road maintenance and improvement so councils can resurface roads properly rather than patching them up and hoping for the best. Last year the Government spent £1.125bn on local roads in England which is in stark contrast to the £7bn that went into major roads from car tax, despite local roads covering so many more miles."
Jonathan White, legal and compliance director for National Accident Helpline said the extra funding was “a step in the right direction” but didn’t go far enough. He said: “While the Government’s extra funding for local road maintenance is welcome, it is unlikely to resolve Britain’s pothole pandemic.
“British roads are littered with potholes, causing grave concerns over safety. It will take more than a one-off bonus to guarantee our roads are maintained to a standard that ensures lasting safety for all road users.”
According to insurer LV=, the average insurance claim for pothole damage to a vehicle is £2,500 as drivers suffer burst tyres, cracked wheels and broken suspension components. Last year it recorded an 11% increase in claims for pothole damage.
LV=’s claims director, Martin Milliner, said: “March is a busy time for car insurance claims relating to potholes, and the most expensive claim has cost around £31,000. We appreciate local authorities are under pressure, however by ensuring urgent repairs are made during the autumn, this will help reduce the cost of repairs for pothole claims.”