LGA analysis: Government spends 31 times more per mile on maintaining motorways than on repairing local potholes

The Government spent 31 times more per mile maintaining motorways and A roads last year than they did on funding councils to repair crumbling local roads.

Workmen constructing plastic road

The Government spent 31 times more per mile maintaining motorways and A roads last year than they did on funding councils to repair crumbling local roads, new Local Government Association (LGA) analysis reveals ahead of the Spring Budget.

New figures show that the Government spent £192,000 per mile on maintaining strategic roads, such as motorways or major A roads compared to just £6,000 per mile on fixing potholes on local roads.

This is despite local roads making up 180,000 miles of the UK’s overall network, with strategic roads making up just 4,800 miles.

It would already take almost a decade and £12 billion to tackle our local roads repair backlog. The LGA is calling on the Government to use the upcoming Spring Budget to urgently provide councils with additional funding so they can tackle repair backlogs and bring local road surfaces up to scratch.

Councils have faced significant increases in carrying out road repairs due to rising inflation and a shortage in material such as bitumen, with latest estimates showing it is costing some councils up to 22 per cent more to repair a pothole.

Analysis by the LGA, which represents more than 350 councils in England and Wales, has found that the Government could help councils fill over four million extra potholes next year if they urgently meet these additional costs faced by councils, estimated to be around £130 million.

As well as this, the LGA is calling on the Government to commit to introducing five-year funding settlements for local road repairs, enabling councils to plan for the future and make the best use of the money available.

Cllr David Renard, Transport spokesperson for the LGA said:

“All journeys by car begin and end on local roads, which make up the vast majority of our road network. Spending more on improving our motorways whilst neglecting crumbling local roads is counterproductive.

“Despite the efforts of councils, which repair a pothole every 19 seconds, our local road repair backlog is rising, with latest estimates showing it would take over £12 billion and nine years to clear.

“This coupled with soaring inflation is making it increasingly harder for councils to keep our roads in good condition.

“The Government should use the Spring Budget to give councils the funding they need to fix potholes and improve road surfaces for everyone that uses them.”

Notes to editors

The inflationary analysis is based on data from the Asphalt Industry Alliance’s 2022 ALARM Survey, which showed the average pothole repair cost councils £45.83. Previous LGA estimates published in the summer had shown that councils are reporting a 22 per cent increase in the cost of repairing a pothole due to shortages of materials and rising levels of inflation.

The repair backlog estimates are also made by the Asphalt Industry Alliance from their 2022 ALARM Survey.  

National Highways spent £926 million operating and maintaining their network between April 2021 and March 2022, which is 4,800 miles long. Councils received £1,125 million in funding from central government for maintenance during the same period for a road network that is 185,200 miles long.