£400m black hole in council pothole funding for 2021/22
Funding given to local councils for roads maintenance was slashed by 22% or £400m in 2021/22 – the equivalent of almost 10 million pothole repairs.
Overall capital funding allocated to councils for local road maintenance for the current tax year fell to £1.3bn, according to new analysis by the Local Government Association.
Based on an average £42 cost to repair a pothole, it means every local council area has lost out on the equivalent of 64,000 repairs.
With councils now facing an estimated £10bn backlog in local road repairs, the LGA said the Government should use the Spending Review to plug this year’s £400m gap and commit to an additional £500m per year to councils for road repairs. This would bring the total annual local roads maintenance budget to £1.8bn.
The trade body also said future capital allocations should take into account the significant inflation rates in highways construction and maintenance costs.
Cllr David Renard, transport spokesperson for the LGA, said: “With long-term and consistent investment in local road maintenance in the Spending Review, councils can embark on the widespread improvement of our roads that is desperately needed, to the benefit of all road users up and down the country, including cyclists.”
The AA also warned that the reduction in roads maintenance funding could particularly put cyclists in personal danger.
Jack Cousens, head of roads policy for the AA, said: “Emergency road repair funds of recent years have been targeted at main roads rather than residential and rural ones. These are the ones that vulnerable road users, such as cyclists, use the most. Pandemic lockdowns and cars parked outside homes got in the way of resurfacing schedules, but now it’s time to catch up.
“As the Government urges local authorities to ‘Build Back Better’, this should be the launchpad for a widescale resurfacing of crumbling streets. With the Autumn Budget and Spending Review due in a couple of weeks, we urge the Chancellor to invest heavily in local roads to help level up the economy.”
The RAC also called for action as it said its research showed the condition and maintenance of local roads is the top concern for drivers.
Head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes commented: “For years local authorities have been working with wafer-thin budgets and it’s now time for the Government to see local roads as the strategic asset they really are. We continue to call on the Treasury to ringfence a proportion of existing fuel duty revenues for local road maintenance. With guaranteed funding, councils would be able to better plan their maintenance schedules and focus not only on reactive repairs but on preventing their roads from crumbling.”