Inconsistent roads funding leads to quick fixes rather than long-term solutions for UK local roads

Europe |

Maintaining roads to target conditions is still out of reach for local authorities in England and Wales despite an increase in highway maintenance budgets, reports this year’s Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) survey.

Published by the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA), a partnership between Eurobitume UK and the Mineral Products Association, this widely-respected annual survey of local authorities in England and Wales revealed that the legacy of inconsistent funding is still preventing highway engineers from being able to provide long term, cost-effective maintenance improvements for local roads.

The 26th ALARM survey reports a 15 per cent increase in highway maintenance budgets. This was partly due to additional funding from central Government, including the Pothole Fund in England, and supplementary funds to support changes as a result of COVID-19 needs and active travel ambitions. However, the reported budgets were still lower than they were two years ago and road conditions have yet to see any significant improvement.

AIA Chair Rick Green said: “While the extra funding in 2020/21 was welcomed, using it to repeatedly fill in potholes is essentially a failure as it does nothing to improve the resilience of the network. The average frequency of road surfacing is now once every 68 years and the cost to fix the backlog of maintenance work on our local roads in England and Wales remains in excess of £10 billion.”

The full 2021 ALARM report can be downloaded here.