Twelve-year wait to repair UK’s pothole-ridden roads

Potholes left to grow as DfT underspends its budget
3 Apr, 2014 12:01am Jake-Aman Shah

More than two million potholes were filled last year but it will still take 12 years to clear the backlog

The existing UK pothole backlog will take 12 years for local authorities in England and Wales to clear, while motorists in London face a 14-year wait.

An estimated total outlay of £12 billion will be needed to get UK roads back into a reasonable state. That’s according to the annual study carried out by the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA).

For the second consecutive year, over 2 million potholes were filled in England and Wales. However, record rainfall over the winter months limited the effectiveness of these efforts.

In addition, there is a significant shortfall in the budget needed to repair the potholes and return the roads into reasonable condition. The figure currently stands 20 per cent down on what is required due to local authorities spending more on maintenance to plug the previous year’s deficit.

8 per cent of UK roads in poor structural condition

The AIA has urged the Government to adopt an ‘invest to save’ policy, which should prevent further shortfalls and reduce the long term backlog in road repairs. This is based on the increased cost of filling potholes, versus resurfacing the road.

It currently costs over 20 times more per square metre to fill a pothole, than it does to resurface the road so investment in better roads could save significantly in long-term repair costs.

Also revealed was the sorry condition of the existing road network, with 18 per cent of UK roads in poor structural condition. This means that almost a fifth of the roads in England have less than five years of life remaining.

Compensation claims for damage to cars caused by bad roads have also increased by 20 per cent on 2013 figures. The average claim rate currently stands at 530 per local authority (excluding London) at a total cost of £31.6 million.

More on the UK's pothole plague...

• Pothole every mile on UK roads 
• Infographic highlights extent of pothole problem