Government unveils £8bn road repair boost

By Categories: NewsPublished On: Wednesday 22 November 2023

Funding redirected following the cancellation of the HS2 rail project’s northern leg will be ploughed into resurfacing more than 5,000 miles of road across England, the Department for Transport has said.

It claims that the £8.3bn reallocation represents the largest ever uplift in funding for improvements to local roads. Local highway authorities will receive £150 million this financial year and again next year, with the remainder of the funding to be allocated through to 2034.

Announcing the policy last week, the transport secretary Mark Harper said: “Today’s biggest-ever funding uplift for local road improvements is a victory for all road users, who will enjoy smoother, faster and safer trips.

Michelle Gardner, deputy policy director at Logistics UK, said fleet operators were currently footing the bill for repairs required as a result of damage caused by potholes.

“Any investment to improve the state of Britain’s roads is welcomed by logistics businesses, which have been severely impacted by the decline in the state of highways in recent years,” she said.

“Our members currently face significant bills for repairs caused by pothole damage (on average, £575.74 for an HGV and £246.87 for a van) while the impact of taking vehicles off the roads for repair is interrupting the supply chain.

“Given the size of the roads repair backlog and that logistics businesses pay £5 billion a year in fuel duty and vehicle excise duty, the lack of urgency to implement plans is disappointing: our sector wants to see this new funding spent more quickly, to get our roads back into a good state, and more funding allocated after that.

“We want to see sustainable, long-term funding for local authorities to address the pothole problem – rather than being dependent on political cycles. As well as funding transport maintenance, our members also need to see a long-term transport investment plan for logistics that resolves the capacity constraints that will result from not building HS2 beyond Birmingham.”

In a statement, the Road Haulage Association (RHA) said it was essential local authorities were adequately resourced to tackle maintenance backlogs.

“As such, the RHA welcomes that this pledge is for funding over the next 10 years, ensuring that local councils will be able to tackle the scourge of potholes in their area,” it said.

“The RHA also welcomes that the government is introducing reporting requirements for councils, so that motorists know that this funding is being spent directly on road maintenance and not other transport projects.

“At a time when local authorities are under significant financial pressure, this transparency is essential to ensure that the money is spent efficiently, and we believe will be a positive step for change on our roads.

“Finally, the RHA also welcomes the role in which the announcement will play in the government’s Network North proposals. While the funding covers regions across England, it is welcomed that £3.3 billion worth of funding is to be allocated to councils in the North West, North East and Yorkshire and the Humber; areas where road investment has been neglected for far too long.”

RAC head of policy, Simon Williams, said: “Drivers’ biggest bugbear of all is the poor condition of local roads, so the fact the government has found a significant additional pot of revenue should give councils the certainty of funding they need to plan proper long-term road maintenance, something we have been calling for many years.

“We hope local authorities will use the money in the most effective way possible by resurfacing the very worst roads, keeping those in reasonable condition in better states for longer through surface dressing and filling potholes as permanently as possible wherever necessary.

“This should in time go a considerable way to bringing our roads back to a fit-for-purpose state and saving drivers hundreds of pounds in the process from not having to fork out for frustrating repairs to their vehicles.”