The UK Government has confirmed that it will provide councils access to £100 million to help fix Britain's pothole-ridden roads.
Announced by transport secretary Chris Grayling, the money adds to the existing £75m in government funding already offered to councils from the Pothole Action Fund, as well as £46m for highways authorities. The Government estimates that about seven million potholes will be filled with this money.
The new fund was confirmed the week after the publishing of a report that said around 12% of UK roads are in poor condition. Aside from the recent cold snap, long-term underinvestment and ineffective government funding methods were cited as key contributions to the declining surface standards.
RAC roads policy boss Nicholas Lye said the report, which was produced by the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA), shows that “short-term funding and creating pots by which local authorities can bid for cash doesn’t appear to be addressing the root cause of the problem”.
AIA figures show that 24,496 miles of roads are in need of repair in Britain over the next year. The total budget shortfall to repair pothole-filled roads currently totals an estimated £556m, equating to a shortfall of £3.3m for each authority.
The Government has said it is investing £6 billion in improving local roads, but the AIA claims that inconsistencies in allocated budgets make it difficult for local authorities to initiate long-term fixes.
“All of the average totals hide a wide disparity that exists between those seeing increased funding and others who have seen their budgets cut and funds diverted to other areas of council expenditure, notably education and social care,” the report said.
The report claimed that, even with effective funding, the issue is so vast that it “would now take 14 years to get local roads back into a reasonable steady state” – two years more than the previous AIA estimate – and cost £9.3bn.
“As things stand, all road users are faced with the prospect of road surfaces falling into an even worse state, making for increasingly uncomfortable, expensive and, in some cases, downright dangerous journeys,” said Lye.
Bad road surfaces and potholes can accelerate wear on car suspension components or even cause direct damage. UK authorities paid out £7.3m in compensation to affected motorists in 2017, a rise of more than £500,000 on the year before.