1. Home
  2. Press room
  3. Press releases
  4. Britain’s roads in the pitts: Almost 1 million potholes reported in 2023

Britain’s roads in the pitts: Almost 1 million(1) potholes reported in 2023, but drivers still struggle with compensation payouts

Pothole reports are up by 24% since 2020, but council payouts are down 13% over the same time frame, new data reveals

Published on 3rd April 2024
  • A total of 4.4 million claims were made from drivers in 2023 for pothole-related incidents. This is up 6% in comparison to 2020.
  • The South East tops the list for the most potholes, racking up almost 200,000 reports last year. The South West of England and Scotland also follow as some of the worst regions reported by drivers.
  • The most common damages caused by potholes include punctured tyres (57%), damaged suspension (35%) or damaged tracking (32%). And repairs are costing drivers around £169, on average, to fix.
  • Despite the government committing to an extra £200 million to fix Britain’s pothole problem(2), more than half (58%) of drivers think roads have never been worse.
  • Not sure what to do if you hit a pothole? Drivers should always go directly to their local council first, but Louise Thomas, motor expert at Confused.com, shares further advice on what to do.

Almost 1 million(1) potholes were reported by drivers in 2023, but drivers are still struggling with compensation payouts. That’s as new data reveals how pothole reports are up by 24% since 2020, but council payouts are down 13% over the same time frame.

That’s according to new research from Confused.com, who sent a Freedom of Information request to UK councils to find out more about Britain’s pothole problem. According to the data, more than 4.4 million claims were made by drivers for pothole damage last year. That’s a 6% rise in pothole claims in comparison to the 3 years prior. But despite claims going up, it appears that payouts aren’t following the same trend. Data reveals how councils paid out around £3.3 million last year for pothole damages. But in comparison, this is down from £3.8 million that was paid out in 2020.

So just how bad is the pothole problem? Data collected by Confused.com can also reveal the worst places in the UK for potholes, based on the total number of pothole reports.

Region Number of reported potholes in 2023
South East England
South West England
North West England
East Midlands

And although not the worst for pothole reports overall, some regions of the UK have seen more increases than most since 2020. For instance, pothole reports made in Yorkshire and The Humber is up 63% - more than any other region. That’s as data reveals pothole reports came to more than 60,000 in 2023. The East of England also had more than 54,000 pothole reports last year. That’s a 53% increase since 2020. And reports in Wales are up 31%, as more than 33,000 potholes were reported last year.

Although those are some of the worst regions in the UK, potholes are all too common and affect millions of drivers each year. Further research of 2,000 UK drivers found almost all (92%) have driven over a pothole in the past. More than 1 in 5 (22%) damaged their car as a result. Tyres suffered the worst damage by potholes, with more than half (57%) of those reporting a punctured or flat tyre. More than a third (35%) said potholes damaged their suspension, and another third (32%) said their car tracking was impacted.

To repair these damages, drivers said they had to pay out £169, on average. But less than 1 in 5 (17%) tried to claim back repair costs from their local council. And with those drivers saying they found the process stressful (42%) or long-winded (30%), it could be why many chose to just fund the repairs themselves. And of those who made a claim to their local council, around a third (31%) were completely unsuccessful in getting compensation. But those who did managed to claim back around £214, on average for damages.

More than half (58%) of drivers think UK roads have never been worse for pothole damage. But the amount of potholes and the lack of compensation offered to drivers could be down to the tight budgets given to local councils. Last year, the government recognised the influx of potholes creating dangerous scenarios for many UK drivers. And as a result, the government announced a £200 million pot of money for councils in England during the 2023 Spring Budget(2). This was to specifically tackle pothole repairs and funding was allocated to councils by the Department for Transport (DfT). But some local councils received a bigger slice than others. This could be one of the main reasons why some drivers are more successful with claims than others. It could also be why some councils are able to repair potholes more frequently than others.

Money aside, councils were kept busy last year. That’s as data reveals how 1.2 million potholes were collectively fixed across the UK in 2023. The good news is that the amount of pothole repairs is up by 19% in comparison to 2020. But the bad news is that a fairly equal amount is still being reported annually, so the burden on drivers is vast. And potholes can not only cause serious damage to cars, but injure drivers and risk the safety of many other road users. In fact, a third (33%) of drivers say potholes are one of their main safety concerns as a driver. And if potholes aren’t fixed by councils in a timely manner, they could continue to be a burden for many who use the roads.

And despite efforts by the government to tackle the problem, it seems that the majority of UK drivers want further change. That’s as almost half (48%) want the government to put more funding towards pothole repairs. And more than half (53%) think that it should be a legal requirement for councils to repair a pothole after it’s been reported.

Motor expert, Louise Thomas at Confused.com car insurance comments:

"Although the harsh winter months are almost behind us, potholes are still proving problematic for drivers across the UK. That’s as our latest data reveals how roads are seemingly getting worse, with around 1 million potholes reported last year - a 24% increase compared to 2020.

“There’s no denying that the UK has a pothole problem, and the government has dedicated more funding as a result. But for some drivers this isn’t enough. Especially if they live in high risk areas, where wet and colder weather means problems are more likely to arise.

“If you see a pothole while driving, it’s important to report it to the local council straight away. Even if it didn’t damage your car, you could help to protect other drivers who might come into contact with it at a later date. Potholes can cause damage to vehicles, so the sooner it’s fixed, the safer road users will be.

“If your car is damaged due to a pothole, you should always try to reclaim the cost of damage through the council first. That’s because pothole repairs are their responsibility. When making a claim, make sure to take pictures or videos for evidence and be as detailed as you can. You should share information about where the pothole was, the time of day it happened and the damage it caused your car. And if the local council won’t compensate for damages, you could also make a claim through your car insurance. But be wary that this could result in a higher premium the following year, so always try the council first.”


Notes to editors

Press team contacts

For more information, please contact our press team.

If your enquiry is time-critical, please write "URGENT" in your email subject line. If you would like a ring-back, please include your telephone number.

More information

Confused.com car insurance price index

The most comprehensive analysis of car insurance premiums in the UK – compiled by motoring experts just for you! How much will you be paying?