Claims against local authorites for damage caused by potholes are on the rise
The government is providing a supplementary £140m cash pot to help local councils to pay for repairs to roads, including those damaged in the recent spell of severe weather.
Of that amount, £36.5m is earmarked specifically for roads in flood-affected local authorities in addition to the £43.5m previously made available for this purpose.
The other £103.5m is being made available to all councils across England. The Department for Transport has devised a formula for deciding how the money will be allocated across England's local authorities.
The money will be distributed to the majority of councils by the end of this week, to ensure that they can make use of it as soon as possible and complete works before the summer holidays.
Heavy rainfall undermines the lower, structural layers of the road creating cracks, fissures and potholes, which are then further eroded by vehicles passing over them.
A statement from the Department for Transport said: "Councils have a responsibility to maintain their roads properly, but the exceptional weather has caused significant additional damage, increasing the amount of damage to the local road network. As the flood waters have receded and councils have been able to assess the impact, it is clear that the these have been particularly severe in certain areas."
In order to qualify for this extra funding, local authorities will be required to publish information on their websites by the end of August 2014 showing where this money has been spent.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: "Having the right infrastructure in place to support businesses and hardworking people is a crucial part of our long-term economic plan. This extra money will help make a real difference to the millions of road users and local residents who rely on local roads, giving them safer and smoother journeys."
The Department for Transport (DfT) says it has allocated more than £1 billion to local authorities for local highways maintenance in the 2013-14 financial year.
The news comes as an investigation by The Telegraph suggests the number of motorists claiming compensation from their local authorities for pothole damage rose dramatically in 2013. The newspaper's figures show that 39,249 people made compensation claims for either injury or vehicle damage last year compared with 25,977 in 2012.
A recent study by extended warranty provider Warranty Direct found that claims for axle and suspension failure – a common effect of potholes – costs British motorists an estimated £2.8bn every year. The study found that the average cost for a council to repair a single pothole is about £50, while the average size of the repair bill for pothole-induced axle or suspension damage is £247.
Motorists can make a compensation claim against local authorities for damage caused by roads providing it can be proved that the council in question was aware of the pothole. Road damage can be reported via the government, www.gov.uk/report-pothole, or via the relevant local authority website.