Repairing potholes could reach £14 billion in two years, councils warn

Councils have warned that 2017 could be a "tipping point" for tackling potholes with the prospect of a repair bill costing £14 billion in two years amid budget cuts.

Analysis by the Local Government Association (LGA) showed repairs for potholes in England and Wales is several times more than the councils' entire annual revenue spending on highways and transport, which was £4.4 billion in England during 2016.

Statistics from the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA) show the amount needed to repair roads rose from £9.8 billion in 2012 to £11.8 billion last year.

The LGA has called on the Government to inject a £1 billion a year into roads maintenance, which it claimed could be achieved by investing two pence per litre of existing fuel duty without increasing pump prices.

Councils fixed potholes every 15 seconds last year. Credit: PA

LGA transport spokesman Martin Tett said: "This year could be a tipping point year regarding potholes.

"Councils have experienced significant budget reductions and now face the looming prospect of a bill of £14 billion to bring the nation's roads up to scratch.

"It is wrong and unfair that the Government allocates almost 40 times more to maintaining national roads, which it controls, compared with local roads, which are overseen by councils. It is paramount this funding discrepancy is swiftly plugged."

He added that councils fixed a pothole every 15 seconds last year, but warned that funding cuts mean they are trapped in a "frustrating cycle" as they are only able to "patch up" roads.

The Department for Transport (DfT) has committed £6 billion for English councils to improve local roads over the current Parliament, in addition to a £50 million-a-year fund specifically for tackling potholes.

A DfT spokesman said: "It is vital councils keep our roads in a good condition to deliver better journeys for drivers."