Potholes are one of the main targets for the fund
Cash taken from now-scaled back HS2 high-speed rail project
The government has pledged to spend £8.3 billion to repair Britain’s pothole-cratered roads – money diverted from the now-scaled back HS2 high-speed rail line.
This fund, Westminster says, is enough to resurface over 5000 miles of road and will be allocated to councils across the country for projects over the next 11 years.
It is the biggest road-specific fund to ever be announced in the UK.
Transport secretary Mark Harper confirmed today that each local authority will now receive £150 million, followed by a further £150 million for 2024/2025. The rest of the funding allocated through to 2034.
Of the cash, £3.3 billion has been allocated for those in the North West, North East and Yorkshire & Humber; £2.2 billion for the West Midlands and East Midlands; and £2.8 billion for East of England, South East, South West and, for the first time in 8 years, London.
“For too long politicians have shied away from taking the right long-term decisions to make life easier for families – tackling the scourge of potholes being a prime example,” said Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
“Well-maintained road surfaces could save drivers up to £440 each in expensive vehicle repairs, helping motorists keep more of the cash in their pocket.”
Harper added: “Most people travel by road and potholes can cause misery for motorists, from expensive vehicle repairs to bumpy, slow, and dangerous journeys.
“Today’s biggest ever funding uplift for local road improvements is a victory for all road users, who will enjoy smoother, faster and safer trips – as we use redirected HS2 funding to make the right long-term decisions for a brighter future.”
The new cash follos from a further £70 million earmarked for updating 20mph zone guidance to “help prevent inappropriate blanket use”, and measures to speed up the rollout of electric vehicle charging.
New £8.3bn road fund welcomed
The fund has been welcomed by some of the UK’s biggest insurers and motoring groups.
RAC head of policy Simon Williams claimed smoother, well-maintained roads could save drivers up to £440 each in repair costs from pothole damage.
Welcoming the news, he said: “Drivers’ biggest bugbear of all is the poor condition of local roads, so the fact the Government has found a significant additional pot of revenue should give councils the certainty of funding they need to plan proper long-term road maintenance, something we have been calling for many years.
“We hope local authorities will use the money in the most effective way possible by resurfacing the very worst roads, keeping those in reasonable condition in better states for longer through surface dressing, and filling potholes as permanently as possible wherever necessary.
“This should in time go a considerable way to bringing our roads back to a fit-for-purpose state and saving drivers hundreds of pounds in the process from not having to fork out for frustrating repairs to their vehicles.”
His thoughts were backed by Edmund King OBE, AA president, who also welcomed the cash: “Perilous roads blighted by potholes are the number one concern for drivers and a major issue for bikers, cyclists and pedestrians. So far this year The AA has attended more than 450,000 pothole related breakdowns. The damage caused can be a huge financial burden for drivers but is also a major safety risk for those on two wheels.
“The £8.3 billion plan can make a considerable difference in bringing our roads back to the standards which road users expect, especially if councils use the cash efficiently to resurface our streets. As well as safer roads, eliminating potholes gives confidence to people wanting to cycle and instils pride of place within local communities.”