Costs for repairing potholes are shooting up, and councils have warned they can't afford to fix them

Courtney Goldsmith
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The UK's pothole problem is going from bad to worse
The UK's pothole problem is going from bad to worse (Source: Getty)

This year could be the "tipping point" for potholes, councils warn, as a new analysis suggests the repair bill could reach £14bn within two years.

The cost of repairing potholes has been steadily growing as recent harsh winters ravage roads and decades of government underfunding leave councils barely able to cope, according to the Local Government Association (LGA), which represents more than 370 councils in England and Wales.

The total spending has risen from £9.8bn in 2012 to £11.8bn last year, statistics from the Asphalt Industry Alliance show.

This means at the current rate of growth, pothole repairs will cost £14bn by around 2019 – that's more than three times the councils' entire annual revenue spending on highways and transport, which sits at £4.4bn.

To reverse this, the LGA is calling on the government to provide a further £1bn a year into roads maintenance, which it said would be equivalent to investing two pence per litre of the existing fuel duty. It added this should not be paid for by increasing fuel duty rates.

Martin Tett, LGA Transport spokesman, said the £14bn bill is a looming prospect facing councils who have experienced significant budget reductions.

“Local authorities are proving remarkably efficient in how they use this diminishing funding pot, but they remain trapped in a frustrating cycle that will only ever leave them able to patch up our deteriorating roads."

A pothole was fixed every 15 seconds last year, Tett said.

But as traffic projections are set to more than double by 2040, Tett said a long-term fix is needed.

"Councils desperately need long-term and consistent funding to invest in the resurfacing projects which our road network desperately needs over the next decade."

In November, Philip Hammond's Autumn Statment was heavily focused on infrastructure. Hammond said the UK's roads would get a £1.3bn funding boost toward improving Britain's roads, most of which would be spend on reducing congestion and upgrading vital local roads and public transport networks.

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