Budget Boost Won’t Fix Pothole Crisis

Tue 2nd Nov 2021

The Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak unveiled his Autumn Budget last week, with seemingly good news for motorists including a £5bn investment in the roads infrastructure.

Much of that money will be spent on improving major roads at a local level and it was hoped that there would finally be an end to the endless run of potholes British drivers have to endure on a daily basis.

Sunak said that the funds would be ‘enough to fill one million more potholes a year’, though that is a huge boast when it is actually up to the local authorities on how they spend the money, with many already having other priorities on their highways.

While the £5bn fund is also boosted by an existing £500m from the previous year’s budget the Local Government Association poured cold water on the claims that the pothole crisis might be over.

“Any funding that allows local authorities to fix more potholes and improve roads for the drivers, cyclists and pedestrians in their communities is a positive thing,” said an LGA spokesperson.

“However, the £400 million reduction the LGA has previously highlighted in roads maintenance budgets has not been filled in the Spending Review.

“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.”

That assessment appears to be backed up too by the Asphalt Industry Alliance, who in their Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance survey found that the backlog of pothole repairs would now cost local councils in excess of £10 billion, and would require an additional £1.5bn from central government to prevent further decline.