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£12bn needed to repair roads

A road in disrepairDrivers are set for more misery because councils in England and Wales are facing a huge shortfall in investment in road maintenance and repairs.

Local authorities in England and Wales need to spend £12 billion to get their roads back in good condition.

This is according to a new report - the latest edition of the Asphalt Industry Alliance's Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) survey.

It says that the nation's highways have suffered another year of underinvestment.

2 million potholes

More than 2 million potholes have been filled over the past 12 months in England and Wales.

But this winter's exceptionally heavy rainfall is thought to have more than offset the impact of this work.

As a result, the alliance says, the catch-up cost of repairing the nation's roads has risen by £1.5 billion.

Alan Mackenzie is chair of the Asphalt Industry Alliance.

He said: "These figures are disappointing for everyone who has worked hard together on the Highway Maintenance Efficiency Programme (HMEP) initiated by the Department for Transport.

Government plans questioned

"It's thanks to HMEP that so many highways departments have successfully made the case to their councils to invest in more repair to avoid further deterioration and costs.

"To see that work washed away is discouraging to say the least."

The figures call into question the effectiveness of government plans, announced in last month's Budget, to set up a £200 million pothole repair fund.

The scheme has been criticised because the money in it has to be bid for by competing local authorities rather than being shared around.

Prevention, not cure

Mackenzie added: "The government has recently made significant additional funds available to help combat the results of the relentless rainfall this winter.

"But money spent on repairing damage never goes as far as money invested in planned, preventative maintenance.

"It costs at least 20 times more per square metre to fill a pothole than it does to resurface a road."

The ALARM survey found that each local authority in England would need a one-off investment of £90 million to get their roads back in tip-top condition.

It would take an estimated 12 years to clear the backlog of repairs currently facing councils in England and Wales.

Compensation claims soar

The report added that government needed to spend an extra £714 million a year on road maintenance to put matters right.

To make matters worse, deteriorating road conditions have resulted in a steep rise in compensation claims for personal injuries or vehicle damage over the past year.

The total cost of dealing with and settling claims over the past 12 months rose to £31.6 million in England and Wales.

But almost half of this sum - £15 million - represented the administrative costs of local authorities processing these claims. 

How to claim for pothole damage

If your vehicle is damaged on a poorly maintained roads, you may be able to claim compensation from the Highways Agency or the local council.

You can also claim on your comprehensive car insurance policy - although bear in mind this will be recorded as an at-fault claim so you will have to pay an excess and could lose some of your no-claims bonus.

Find out more in our how to claim for pothole damage step-by-step guide.

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Chris Torney

Chris Torney

Chris is the former personal finance editor at the Daily Express. He's been a journalist for more than 10 years and contributes to a wide range of finance and business titles.Read more from Chris

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