Cash to tackle the pothole crisis may not be given to councils which fail to resurface roads, it can be revealed.
The Telegraph understands that local authorities which fail to hit targets on road resurfacing could see promised money held back under the Government’s new £8 billion national pothole fund.
Government announced in September that it would put £8.3 billion saved from the scrapping of HS2 towards helping to tackle the country’s pothole crisis.
It comes as the country’s roads continue to deteriorate, with a report from the Asphalt Industry Alliance in March reporting that one in five roads would be undriveable in the next 15 years unless urgent maintenance work was carried out.
Last week, it was revealed that this would cover the next 11 years, with all of the country’s local authorities receiving millions of pounds in additional funding to repair roads.
This will include councils being given £150 million over each of the next two years.
For the first time ever councils will be required to publish lists of the roads that they intend to resurface with this cash as a condition of the funding.
The lists will have to be published in March 2024, with councils having to publish quarterly progress reports aimed at improving transparency and allowing greater scrutiny.
However, it has now emerged that the Government could intervene if councils fail to hit promises on resurfacing plans.
A Department for Transport (DfT) source told The Telegraph that it was confident that councils would meet expectations but suggested that if they did not, it would reserve the right to reduce future grant payments.
Councils must publish long-term spending plans
In addition to the more specific plans on which roads will be resurfaced over the next two years, councils will also be required to publish long-term plans for how they intend to spend the cash over the next 11 years.
The DfT is currently working with councils to ensure that the detail is proportionate and fit for purpose.
In a ministerial statement on Monday, Mark Harper, the Transport Secretary, said that the new funding represented a two-thirds increase in funding for local roads, while also providing long-term certainty so councils can develop supply chains.
He added: “To ensure that the funding delivers a transformational improvement in the condition of local roads and to allow a greater degree of public scrutiny over how it is spent, DfT is introducing new reporting requirements on local authorities.”
Last week it was revealed that the £8.3 billion over the next ten years would see councils in the Midlands get £2.2 billion, those in the North of England £2.2 billion and authorities in the East and South of England £2.5 billion.
Guy Opperman, the Roads Minister, said: “We’re investing an additional £8.3 billion, the biggest ever boost for local road improvements, which is enough to resurface over 5,000 miles of road and shows that this Government is on the side of drivers.
“To ensure this investment is truly transformational for road users up and down the country, we are committed to holding councils to account to make sure that taxpayers’ money is well spent and properly fixes roads.”
For the first time in eight years London will also be given £225 million in central government funding for local roads.
Analysis from the RAC estimated that the pothole-free roads would save drivers just over £191 million every year in car repairs. Motorists who break down as a result of potholes currently have to fork out around £440 to fix their vehicles.