Cost of fixing roads with potholes soars to more than £12 billion

ITV News Consumer Editor Chris Choi reports on Britain's worsening pothole problem

The cost of repairing Britain's pothole-plagued roads will exceed £12 billion according to a report.

The backlog of repairs in England and Wales has soared by almost a quarter in 12 months due to a lack of long-term investment.

A survey of councils by the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA) suggested it would cost £12.64 billion to return local roads to a condition from which cost-effective maintenance would be possible.

This is up from £10.24 billion just one year ago.

The AIA’s Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) report indicated that the proportion of council budgets allocated to highway maintenance has fallen during the 2021/22 financial year compared with the previous 12 months.

The proportion has fallen from 5.5% to 5.1% in England (excluding London), from 2.0% to 1.6% in London, and from 4.5% to 3.0% in Wales.

Almost one in five local roads could need to be rebuilt in the next five years due to their condition, which is nearly 37,000 miles of road.

The ALARM survey also suggested that local roads are typically resurfaced only once every 70 years.

(PA Graphics) Credit: PA Graphics

AIA chair Rick Green said: “The link between continued underinvestment and the ongoing structural decline and below par surface conditions of our local roads is clear.

“The country’s ambitions to encourage active travel, plus cutting waste and carbon emissions, will not be achieved with a short-term approach that can’t deliver a first-rate local road network.”

He added: “Local authority highway teams have a legal responsibility to keep our roads safe, but do not have the funds to do so in a cost-effective, proactive way.”

Mr Pothole, an anti-pothole campaigner from Brackley in Northamptonshire gives those dealing with potholes some advice.

David Renard, transport spokesperson for the Local Government Association, said: “Despite the efforts of councils, which repair a pothole every 19 seconds, these stark new figures show our local road repair backlog is rising.

“To clear this growing backlog, councils need further government investment and certainty over future funding over the next decade.”

A pothole on a road in Islington, London. Credit: PA

RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes said the report “provides a sobering picture of the dire condition of our local road network”.

He went on: “The government must now look at implementing a long-term funding strategy which ringfences a small proportion of existing fuel duty revenue to give local authorities the resources to properly plan maintenance and to ensure our local roads are once again made fit for purpose.”

Cycling UK head of campaigns Duncan Dollimore said: “Lack of funding and misplaced priorities from governments repeatedly prioritising major road building has left local roads in decay.”