In the Conservative manifesto the government committed to boost investment by £500m per annum to tackle the scourge of potholes and help level up funding across the country. This was confirmed in the budget last March.
Last year, the first tranche of this investment saw core capital funding rise to £1.783bn. This allowed CCN member councils to undertake significant improvements to local roads, with planned capital investment by CCN member councils rising 13% in a single year.
Given the government commitment to continue to invest an additional £500m through the pothole fund over and above existing resources, CCN member councils were anticipating similar capital allocations for the forthcoming year. However, today’s announcement confirms that funding will fall to £1.385bn.
Compared to the previous year, capital funding for councils to invest in road improvements and potholes will therefore reduce significantly by £398m. With CCN member councils receiving 72% of the core capital investment last year, these councils are disproportionately impacted by reductions, facing an average decline in capital grant of 22% next year, a total of £285m.
Counties have been planning highways work based on an expected level of funding and many have published plans for the next year. As a result of the reduction in funding, our councils will have no choice but to reduce investment next year, cancelling high priority planned works. Given wider financial pressures facing councils, many of our councils do not have the ability to borrow significant amounts to offset losses next year and maintain this essential planned investment.
CCN are calling on the government to use the forthcoming Budget to ensure that there is no reduction and the government fulfils its commitment to increase roads funding. Although the impact of the pandemic has led to additional costs and complexity in delivering services, CCN member councils have filled thousands of potholes and put in place local schemes to resurface entire roads; with improvements being seen and welcomed by our residents right across the country.
Cllr Barry Lewis, Economic Growth Spokesperson for CCN said;
“The government’s commitment to increase funding for potholes and local road maintenance by £500m each and every year of this parliament was warmly welcomed by councils and MPs alike – who say the scourge of potholes are amongst their most frequent complaints in their mailboxes.
“However, the government has given with one hand and taken with the other, as the overall funding pot for roads maintenance will fall £398m compared to last year. Our councils rely heavily on this capital funding to help tackle the backlog of roads repairs in their areas and to ensure their road networks are in a good condition: crucial to levelling up their areas.
“Unless further funding is made available, our councils will have no choice but to reduce their roads maintenance work this coming year. Councils are already facing unfunded additional costs from contractual arrangements due to the pandemic, while reducing planned works will negatively impact local employment and the economic recovery.”
“We urge the Treasury to use the forthcoming Budget to ensure that there is no reduction and the government fulfils its commitment to increase roads funding.”
Notes to editor