William Eichler 21 March 2023

Record £14bn needed to fix pothole-ridden local roads

Record £14bn needed to fix pothole-ridden local roads image
Image: Youproduction/Shutterstock.com.

A record £14bn is now needed for local authorities to tackle the local roads maintenance backlog, according to the annual ALARM survey.

Published today by the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA), the survey reports that highway teams in England and Wales only received around two-thirds of what they needed to stop local roads from further deterioration during the 2022/23 financial year.

It found the gap between what councils received and what they said they would have needed to keep roads to their own target conditions is now £1.30bn – a 20% increase on last year’s figure and the highest amount reported in nearly three decades of ALARM surveys.

The Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) survey was completed by 75% of authorities responsible for roads in England, London and Wales and was carried out between December 2022 and February 2023.

It found the cost of fixing the maintenance backlog has reached a new high of £14.02bn – an increase of 11% on last year – and would take an average of 11 years to complete.

The survey also revealed that 49% – or more than 100,000 miles – of local roads are at risk of deteriorating to the point of needing to be rebuilt within the next 15 years without investment.

Rick Green, AIA chair, welcomed the Chancellor’s recent budget announcement of an additional £200m one-off payment for local roads in England, but said it was not enough to make up the shortfall.

‘It represents around 20% of the average shortfall in English local authorities’ annual budgets and will do little to improve overall structural conditions and stem further decline,’ he said.

Local Government Association (LGA) Transport spokesperson, Cllr David Renard, said: ‘Councils work tirelessly to repair our local roads, which are the bedrock of our economy – vital for businesses and for ordinary people going about their day-to-day lives. It is therefore alarming that, due to soaring inflation and historic funding cuts, councils’ repair backlog has grown and this has become increasingly challenging to tackle.

‘To improve the condition of our roads, the Government should provide a funding increase for councils, including meeting new inflationary pressures. This would help councils focus on long-term investment in existing roads, delivering preventative maintenance and reducing the occurrence of potholes in the first place, which are more expensive to repair.’

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