The funding lost from local road maintenance budgets this year would be enough to repair more than 9.5 million potholes, according to new research. Analysis by the Local Government Association (LGA), which represents councils, found funding for local roads had been reduced by £400 million for the 2021/22 financial year.
According to the LGA, the overall capital funding allocated to councils for local road maintenance by the Department for Transport (DfT) for this financial year is £1.39 billion. That’s a 22-percent drop on the £1.78 billion allocated in the 2020/21 financial year, in spite of the government’s £2.5 billion pothole repair fund.
The news comes after the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA) annual report on potholes claimed the one-time cost of repairing every pothole in England and Wales now stands at over £10 billion. The organisation says it costs councils an average of £41.61 to fill each pothole, so the LGA estimates the £400 million shortfall in roads funding would be enough to fill a massive 9.5 million potholes.
That figure equates to 64,000 potholes per council, although the AIA figures suggest that still wouldn’t make a huge dent in the backlog of potholes that need repairing. The £400 million cut from transport budgets would only be enough to fill around one in every 25 potholes in England and Wales. And the government’s £2.5 billion repair fund is still only enough to fill around a quarter of the potholes that need fixing.
Nevertheless, the LGA says the government’s pothole repair funding will “go a long way” to help councils repair our ruined roads. But the organisation is still urging the government to restore the highways maintenance funding.
The association’s transport spokesperson, Councillor David Renard, said “consistent” funding would benefit road users around the country, including motorists and cyclists.
“The ability of councils to improve local transport connectivity and infrastructure, including upgrades to local bus, road and cycle infrastructure, is critical to government ambitions to level up the country and support our long-term economic recovery from the pandemic,” he said. “Councils are on the side of motorists, and are working hard to keep our roads safe and resilient, repairing potholes as quickly as they can. However, it would take £11 billion and more than a decade for councils to clear the current local roads repair backlog, with the cancellation of important planned works risking extending this backlog further.
“With long-term and consistent investment in local road maintenance, councils can help the government by embarking 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.”