New £2.5 billion Budget boost ‘won’t cure UK’s pothole problem’

£2.5billion not enough to fix UK's pothole problem

New research suggests that more than two million potholes could be left unrepaired every year, even after the Treasury’s cash injection from yesterday’s Budget.

As we reported in our Budget coverage, chancellor of the exchequer Rishi Sunak confirmed that £500 million extra would be allocated annually over the next five years to combat the problem.

The news was well received. Neil Worth, road safety officer at GEM Motoring Assist said: “We are delighted that the chancellor is willing to pour £2.5 billion into potholes over the next five years.”

“We would like to see action taken immediately that will give national highways agencies and local authorities the means to ramp up their programme of pothole repairs. Let there be no delay in improving the state of our roads.”

£2.5billion not enough to fix UK's pothole problem

However, last year’s Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) report indicates more still will be needed. It showed an extra £657 million was required to repair potholes last year in England and Wales.

Assuming the numbers carry over, that leaves an annual shortfall of £157 million in funding. Sunak’s cash injection may be more plaster than cast.

2.4 million potholes a year left unrepaired

£2.5billion not enough to fix UK's pothole problem

Consider that the average unplanned pothole repair cost costs £65.33. Do the maths, and you’re left with around 2.4 million potholes unrepaired every year. That’s just over 10 million potholes over the next five years. Over this period, the government wants to see 50 million repaired.

Still, five-sixths of the job is a start. And since 2013, local authorities have spent £74 million in compensation for damage caused by potholes.

£2.5billion not enough to fix UK's pothole problem

“The state of the roads in England and Wales is no secret to anyone, so people up and down the country will welcome this latest announcement of a significant increase in the funding to repair our roads,” said Souad Wrixen, marketing director of Citroen UK.

Citroen has highlighted the remaining deficit in funding, and the suitability of its cars for dealing with the remaining ruts in the road. Citroen’s progressive hydraulic cushion tech comes fitted to the C5 Aircross and C4 Cactus models as standard.

UK braced for a ‘widespread outbreak of potholes’

Pothole repairs UK roads

The RAC attended 20 percent more pothole-related breakdowns in the last quarter of 2019. This is compared to the same period in 2018.

Over the entire year, the RAC was called to 9,200 pothole-related faults, including distorted wheels, broken suspension springs and damaged shock absorbers. These figures coincide with ‘National Pothole Day’, which seeks to highlight the shocking state of UK roads.

For its part, the RAC has created a Pothole Index, which provides a long-term indicator of the state of UK roads. Right now, the indicator is reading 1.7, which means motorists are 1.7 times more likely to experience a pothole-related breakdown than they were in 2006 when the RAC first collected the data.

The RAC is warning that Storm Brendan will kick-start a ‘widespread outbreak of yet more potholes’, with the UK braced for more wind, rain and snow. Put simply: things are going to get worse before they get better.

One pothole-related breakdown an hour

Pothole road

RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes said: “We might so far be experiencing a milder but wetter winter than in the last couple of years, but our figures clearly show the problem of potholes has not gone away. Our patrols are still attending on average around one pothole-related breakdown every hour of the day.

“We anticipate the Government will pledge further funds to help cash-strapped councils mend potholes in the March Budget, but such pledges are only chipping away at the problem, and they’re unfortunately not addressing the root cause of why so much of the UK is still characterised by crumbling road surfaces.

“What we need is for central Government to think differently about how councils are funded to maintain the roads under their control. Short-term commitments of cash, while welcome, are not enough on their own – councils need the security of long-term funding so they can plan proper preventative road maintenance.

“A solution to the UK’s long-term pothole problem is possible. From this year, the money raised from vehicle excise duty in England will be ring-fenced to help fund motorways and major A-roads over successive five-year periods. But as yet, there is no similar model for local roads where the vast majority of drivers begin and end their journeys. We believe this could easily be changed by ring-fencing 2p a litre from existing fuel duty revenue to generate £4.7 billion of additional funding over five years.

“Pothole-free roads shouldn’t be a ‘nice to have’ in 2020, drivers should surely be able to expect the vast majority of roads they drive on to be of a good standard, especially given they pay around £40 billion in motoring-related tax every year.”

To report a pothole in your street or on your route to work, visit the RAC website.

The condition of UK roads has reached ‘crisis point’

pothole uk

Nearly half of motorists who took part in a new poll believe the state of UK roads has reached a crisis point.

Forty-two percent of those surveyed agreed with the statement: ‘I think we have a crisis in the state of repair of roads in the UK’. This increases to 50 percent in the East of England, 49 percent in Scotland and 46 percent in the South West.

Few people believe the roads are acceptable, although motorists in London (32 percent), the West Midlands (34 percent) and Northern Ireland (37 percent) appear to be more satisfied than others. We suspect a few readers will be shaking their heads in disbelief.

The results of the Re-flow study coincide with ‘National Pothole Day’, which highlights the pothole epidemic facing the UK’s motorists on a daily basis.

In the West Midlands, 36 percent of the 2,092 respondents who took part in the survey believe that the state of the roads constitutes a national emergency. This is a view shared by motorists in the South East, Wales and North West.

‘More like firefighters’

Road workers fixing a pothole

Roads suffer during winter months, with rain and snow damaging the surface, often beyond repair. The heavy rainfall of the winter of 2019/20 has led to flooding and the emergence of new and often huge potholes. Proper investment is required, but Re-flow believes there’s more to it than simply money.

It is calling for a three-pronged approach, focused on the following:

  1. Utilising better project management methods
  2. Better scheduling of projects
  3. Improvements in construction methods

Mike Saunders, managing director of Re-flow, said “The challenges being faced by the industry in terms of being more innovative with the design, construction and maintenance of the network are ever-present, so those working in the sector must come up with new ways to do more to make the most of the funding they receive, as a sustained lack of investment is set to continue in the foreseeable future.

The current system of trying to keep on top of patching up the potholes instead of investing in proper resurfacing is making roadworkers more like firefighters.”


Half of British drivers find potholes the most annoying thing on the road

Potholes are the most annoying thing on the road

Potholes are back. Did they ever go away? According to a survey of 2,000 road users, the pothole is the most annoying thing on the road. That’s according to 55 percent of respondents.

Potholes top a list of 20 motoring annoyances, including people who don’t indicate, tailgaters, roadworks, cyclists, speed cameras and breakdowns.

A massive 43 percent of drivers have had their car damaged as a result of a pothole. Forty-four percent of those said the damage was a burst tyre, while 36 percent have suffered from broken alloy wheels. A fifth of pothole incidents have resulted in a collision of vehicles.

Potholes and speed bumps damage one in four cars

Of course, many send damage claims to local authorities – and so they should. Because if not, the average cost is around £130. One in 20 have copped a bill for £400 or more. Injuries and damage related to potholes have caused 30 percent of people to have time off work.

Eight in ten road users say that potholes are so prolific, they’re a guaranteed part of a journey. Nine in ten Glaswegian drivers claim they are forced to find an alternative route in order to avoid potholes. Glasgow is the worst affected city in the UK, followed by Manchester, Plymouth, Sheffield and Cardiff.

Overall, Brits reckon they’re no more than 20 metres from a pothole when they’re at home. The average journey to the shops in the UK will feature around 18 potholes.

Worst pothole in the UK

“Potholes may seem like a minor problem – but they cause millions of people financial and physical damage each year,” said Paul Fleetham, managing director of contracting at Tarmac, which commissioned the study ahead of National Pothole Day (15 January).

“Our research shows that the vast majority of city-dwellers are fed up with the inconvenience they cause. It is therefore essential that road maintenance in England and Wales receives adequate government funding, something we believe is essential for local authorities to ensure they can deliver lasting road maintenance solutions.

“We need to move to a longer-term proactive approach to funding that focuses on the social value of our roads, managing the network as a vital asset with proper preventative structural maintenance.“

Potholes and speed bumps damage one in four cars

One in four have damaged their car on a pothole or speed bump

Potholes and speed bumps damage one in four cars

New data has revealed that one in four motorists have damaged their car on a pothole or speedbump. That number rises to nearly one in three (30 percent) for people in urban areas.

The Opinium survey of 2,000 drivers found that a quarter of those who had damaged their car in such a way had incurred costs of between £51 and £100 for the repairs. Over a third (175 drivers) had paid between £101 and £250, and 40 drivers had a bill of over £250.

Potholes and speed bumps damage one in four cars

Around 200 (39 percent) of the affected drivers said they had complained to the council about the damage to their cars. Over half (55 percent) said they were ignored. Thirty-nine percent (78 drivers) said that action was taken as a result of their complaint. Twenty drivers (10 percent) even sent their bill to their respective councils.

Just over a fifth of those who had taken damage from potholes or speed humps said they did consider complaining but “didn’t see the point” because “nothing would change”.

Roads that damage cars could be increasing emissionsWorst pothole in the UK

Incredibly, one in six drivers (17 percent) said that they consciously take a longer route to avoid potholes and other road damage. Longer journeys often translates to more emissions, meaning potholes could, in some way or another, be increasing emissions output.

“Damage to cars caused by speedhumps and potholes, in particular, is becoming a big problem as councils struggle with the cost of repairing them,” said Ben Wooltorton, COO of InsureTheGap, the company behind the survey.

“This cold snap will see more potholes and, as we can see from the research, repairs can run into hundreds of pounds. It really is worth avoiding them if possible, and going a different way if the road is particularly bad.”

Ranked: the worst areas in the UK for potholed roads

Worst pothole in the UK

Pothole season has started, as overnight frosts begin to take their toll on UK roads. We won’t know until spring how badly the roads have fared for this year, but motorists are likely to be in for a rough ride. To help judge where to be most wary of potholes, MoneySuperMarket has released a league table for the past three years.

The data has come from a Freedom Of Information request, asking the number of potholes reported by residents in various counties. By far and away the worst area for pothole reports is Nottinghamshire, with the county council receiving 253,920 reports over three years.

That’s a comfortable 100,000 lead over second-placed Devon. Happily, Nottinghamshire is also high on the list for local authorities that spend out on repairs. It has shelled out more than £12 million over the last three years addressing the issue.

Most potholes reported or identified by local authority
1 Nottinghamshire County Council 253,920
2 Devon County Council 147,779
3 Kirklees Metropolitan Borough Council 135,405
4 Cambridgeshire County Council 112,947
5 East Riding of Yorkshire Council 84,050
6 Cornwall Council 77,138
7 Durham County Council 67,230
8 Herefordshire Council 64,144
9 Hertfordshire County Council 54,416
10 Newcastle upon Tyne City Council 49,697

Worst pothole in the UK

Devon (147,779), Kirklees (135,405), Cambridgeshire (112,947) and East Riding of Yorkshire (84,050) finish off the top five.

Happily, Devon is also third in spending, shelling out £9 million to keep on top of potholes. While Kirklees is ninth for spending, shelling out £2.6 million, none of the others in the top five for pothole reports feature on the top 10 expenditure list.

Hertfordshire, which is nowhere to be found in the best or worst list for potholes, spends the most on repairing them – a healthy £14.1 million.

Highest pothole spend by local authority
1 Hertfordshire County Council £14,115,615
2 Nottinghamshire County Council £12,205,051
3 Devon County Council £9,093,271
4 Herefordshire Council £7,202,031
5 Cornwall Council £5,159,579
6 Leicester City Council £4,285,211
7 Stoke-on-Trent City Council £3,225,084
8 Angus Council £3,175,162
9 Kirklees Metropolitan Borough Council £2,693,912
10 Barnsley Borough Council £2,626,853

Worst pothole in the UK

“As most drivers will know, potholes are a real menace and they increase in number during the winter period, as freezing temperatures can cause road surfaces to break. We’re expecting a particularly cold winter, so we may well see the number of potholes rise or worsen,” said a spokesperson for MoneySuperMarket.

“Driving over a pothole can cause serious damage to your car. Depending on the severity of the incident, it can lead to burst tyres, problems with suspension and even damage to your vehicle’s body work.

“Wherever you live or drive, it’s likely you’ll encounter a pothole at some point, so you should shop around to make sure you have the right car insurance deal for your needs. Shopping around can save up to £250.”

Two in five drivers would pay MORE tax to fix potholes

Pothole road

The UK’s pothole epidemic is so severe, around 40 percent of drivers said they would be willing to pay more tax to fix the problem. That’s according to a study conducted by Green Flag, with researchers speaking to 2,000 British drivers.

As Benjamin Franklin famously said, “nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes”, but we can add potholes to that list, with UK drivers encountering, on average, seven potholes per trip.

Even more shocking is the fact that 56 percent of motorists said their cars have been damaged by potholes, costing the country around £4.9 billion in repair costs.

In February, the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA) said that £1.5 billion was required over the next 10 years simply to get the UK’s road network up to a maintainable standard. Right now, there are around one million potholes scarring Britain’s roads, and the problem is only going to get worse.

Driving us potty

Traffic cone in a pothole

Green Flag’s research would suggest that motorists have had enough. While two in five said they’d be prepared to pay a higher rate of VED if the revenue was spent on repairing potholes, around a quarter said they’d be willing to add up to five miles to their journey to avoid driving on a pock-marked road.

Simon Henrick at Green Flag said: “The problem of potholes on UK roads means there is an increased risk of car damage. With this in mind, it is important to stay safe when driving and to regularly check your vehicle and tyres for damage.

“Our research found that only a third of drivers know how to check their tyres for damage, and only 49 per cent know how to change a tyre, so Green Flag is doing all we can to ensure drivers know how to carry out basic safety checks before a journey and carry out simple maintenance to their vehicles.”

It’s rather worrying that just half of the motorists surveyed said they know how to change a tyre – although with so many cars leaving the showroom without a spare wheel, perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised. Just one in three motorists said they’d feel comfortable checking tyres for signs of damage.

How to change a car tyre

changing a tyre

To help the 49 percent of drivers who can’t change a wheel, Green Flag has put together the following guide.

  1. Find a safe place to stop: as soon as you notice you have a flat tyre, find a safe place to stop off the road on a stable, flat surface. If you’re on a motorway, move to the hard shoulder and wait for assistance as it’s too dangerous to change a tyre there.
  2. Safety first: put on a high visibility vest and place a reflective hazard warning triangle plenty of distance behind your car to alert oncoming traffic.
  3. Prepare for the job: locate the spare wheel, the jack, wheel brace and locking wheel nut key. All should be either under the boot floor, under the car or in some SUVs on the back door.
  4. No spare? If you can’t find a spare wheel, your car may instead be equipped with mousse that can be squirted into the tyre through the valve. This is only a temporary solution to get you home and you should get the tyre changed as soon as possible.
  5. Prepare the wheel: to remove the punctured wheel and tyre, loosen the wheel nuts with the wheel wrench, but don’t remove them yet. If you can’t see the wheel nuts, you may have to prise off a cover first. If your car has alloy wheels, one of the nuts is likely to be locking and there will be a key that fits the wheel brace to undo this.
  6. Position the car: check the handbrake is firmly on and put the car into first gear. Find the jacking point by looking in your car’s manual, and use the jack to raise the car so that the wheel with the punctured tyre is off the ground.
  7. Remove the wheel: now fully remove the wheel nuts and take off the wheel. If the wheel won’t budge, call your breakdown provider: pushing and pulling it could bring the car off the jack.
  8. Add the spare wheel: lift the spare wheel onto the hub, line up the holes and screw in the nuts until they’re finger tight. Once it’s secure, lower the jack and use the wrench to tighten the wheel nuts fully.
  9. To remember: check them all twice to be sure none is loose. Remember if your car has a space saver spare wheel, your top speed and the number of miles you cover is limited.

More than 11 million drivers affected by potholes in 2018

Potholes UK

More than 11 million drivers were affected by potholes last year, with the resulting vehicle damage costing the country a staggering £1.2 billion. That’s according to research published by Kwik Fit.

The news comes on the same day that the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA) annual survey suggests £24.5 million was spent on short-term ‘patch and mend’ work to 1.86 million holes.

Local authorities would need to spend £9.79 billion over the next decade to bring all roads up to scratch, said the AIA. The problem is only going to get worse, with the number of potholes repaired by councils in England and Wales rising by more than a fifth in 2018.

While Kwik Fit found that the average cost of repairing damage to tyres, suspension and wheels has reduced slightly from £111 to £108.86, the number of motorists suffering from pothole-related incidents increased by 2.9 million in 2018.

The most common repairs are tyres (5.9 million), suspension (3.8 million), wheels (3.7 million), steering (1.7 million), bodywork (1.3 million) and exhausts (1.2 million). Anecdotally, the plethora of potholes also damaged around 11 million wallets.

Londoners were the hardest hit, with the capital’s drivers facing a bill of £205 million. In Scotland, the figure stood at more than £150 million, while in Wales, the total cost was ‘just’ £20 million.

Damage around the corner

Pothole damage

Roger Griggs, communications director at Kwik Fit, said: “The cost of damage from potholes is hitting more and more drivers who are continuing to see their cash being spent on issues that are not entirely their fault.

“Fortunately, this winter has not been as harsh as it has been in recent years, however as we know with the Great British weather, conditions which would further damage our road network could still be [around] the corner.

“It is worth noting that damage isn’t always immediately noticeable, so motorists should give their car a thorough check when they do hit a pothole.”

AIA chairman Rick Green said: “Sustained investment over a longer time frame is needed if we want a local road network that supports enhanced mobility, connectivity and productivity.”

UK in a ‘roads crisis’ according to highways workforce

Ford Focus pothole

A number of areas have been identified as focal points for improvement in the highways sector, after research carried out by Re-flow across the UK raised concerns.

The main challenges that are hampering the maintenance of the UK’s roads are, according to highways workers, a lack of effective scheduling and monitoring, too much bureaucracy and poor communication between delivery teams.

Digital technologies are also considered to be under-utilised at present, according to over three-in-four responding workers. As many as 73 percent also agreed that public opinion is important in registering issues and measuring the quality of our roads.

Although issues have been highlighted with the process of road maintenance, the workers have highlighted that coverage of roadway issues is unfairly skewed towards the state of the roads. By comparison, the work that goes into maintaining roads is under-covered.

Road workers fixing a pothole

This comes just days after it was claimed that as much as £15 billion over the course of ten years will be needed to get the UK’s road network on track in terms of manageable maintenance. It’s been claimed before that the UK is in the throes of a pothole epidemic. Sounds a bit worse than ‘roads crisis’ but that’s not exactly ideal…

Still, it’s good to have the views of those on the front line. They do deserve a bit more credit, we reckon…

£1.5 billion needed over 10 years to repair UK potholes

Potholes UK Epidemic

The Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA) has estimated that road maintenance funding needs to rise by £1.5billion per year to get the UK’s highways up to a maintainable standard. Even then, clearing the backlog would take a decade.

A longer-term approach to funding is needed, says the AIA, to prevent a ‘cycle of patch and mend due to the long-term underfunding of local roads’.

Potholes UK Epidemic

Local authorities have spent as much as £1 billion over the past 10 years simply filling in potholes, barely maintaining and certainly not improving road standards.

The time and money spent patching roads is deducted from planned maintenance and upgrades that could see the pothole become almost extinct, it says.

In October, there was a £420 million pledge to local authorities to help mend the UK’s shattered roads. Since then, we’ve had a significant cold snap, meaning that the UK’s pothole epidemic is only likely only to get worse.

Potholes UK Epidemic

The UK has hovered around 1,000,000-pothole mark for the past three years, according to surveys by local authorities.

“While the additional funding announced by Government has been well received, it’s a fraction of the £1.5 billion extra a year – for 10 years – that we believe is needed to bring roads back up to target conditions,” said Rick Green, chairman of the AIA.