Local authorities have seen a record shortfall in pothole repair budgets of around £1.3 billion, research has found. 

A survey carried out by the Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (Alarm) found councils in England and Wales said they only received two-thirds of what they needed during the current financial year to stop local roads further deteriorating.

This resulted in a total carriageway maintenance budget shortfall of £1.3 billion.

That is a jump of more than a fifth on the previous 12 months and represents the highest figure in 28 years of Alarm reports.

County Times: Additional funding was announced by Jeremy Hunt in his Spring Budget last week to tackle potholes.Additional funding was announced by Jeremy Hunt in his Spring Budget last week to tackle potholes. (Image: PA)

This news comes just a week after chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced in his Spring Budget the £500 million allocated would be increased by a further £200 million next year in England and £180 million in Wales to help communities “tackle this problem” of potholes.

The Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA), which commissioned the research, said this is because budgets have not kept pace with cost increases caused by inflation.

Chairperson of the AIA, Rick Green, said: “Highway engineers can only do so much with the resources they are given and should be applauded for the steps they take to keep roads safe.

“We all appreciate that there are difficult choices to make with demands and pressures on the public purse coming from every area, but not investing in local road maintenance only leads to worsening conditions, which impact on other locally provided public services, a rising bill to fix the problem and more road user complaints.

“To really improve conditions and create a safe, resilient and sustainable network, what’s needed is a longer-term funding horizon from central Government with more highway budget ring-fencing.

“This would help local authority engineers to plan effectively and implement more efficient works to protect and enhance the resilience of the local road network.”

Mr Green added that the boost for filling potholes on local roads in England and Wales during the next financial year – announced in the Spring Budget last week – was welcome but “not enough” as it will “do little to improve overall structural conditions and stem further decline”.

County Times: Potholes have forced 2.7 million cars off the road in the past 12 months.Potholes have forced 2.7 million cars off the road in the past 12 months. (Image: PA)

The report found the one-time cost of bringing all local roads up to scratch now stands at £14 billion and would take 11 years to complete.

It also revealed that 18% of the local roads network – nearly 37,000 miles – has been assessed as being in poor condition and having less than five years of life remaining.

David Renard, transport spokesman for the Local Government Association, which represents local authorities, said councils “work tirelessly” to repair roads but the backlog is “increasingly challenging to tackle”.

AA head of roads policy Jack Cousens described the condition of some roads as “an international embarrassment” and called for “serious investment” after “years of sticking plaster solutions”.

Potholes have forced 2.7 million cars off the road in the past 12 months

According to Kwik Fit’s Pothole Impact Tracker (PIT), pothole damage has forced nearly 2.7 million cars off the road in the last 12 months.

57 per cent of those surveyed also said they had hit at least one pothole a week over the past 12 months.

This survey spoke to 2,000 UK adults and Kwick Fit PIT said these numbers applied to the wider population, would see 13.1 million drivers suffering damage to their cars as a result of an impact with a pothole.

County Times: The nation's motorists have forked out around £1.7bn in pothole-related vehicle repairs.The nation's motorists have forked out around £1.7bn in pothole-related vehicle repairs. (Image: PA)

The average repair bill received by each driver was £127, meaning that the nation’s motorists have forked out £1.7bn in pothole-related vehicle repairs.

Kwik Fit’s research and analysis of government data also shows that the cost of repairing this damage has more than doubled since 2013.

More than half of drivers spoken to say the condition of the roads in their area is worse than ten years ago, with 39 per cent saying that they are ‘signficantly’ worse.

A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “We are investing more than £5 billion from 2020 to 2025 into local highways maintenance, and recently announced an extra £200m at the Budget to fix millions of potholes a year.

“This will help make journeys smoother and safer for all, repair dozens of bridges, and resurface roads up and down the country.”