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Pavement defects and dodgy manhole covers costing taxpayer £500m a year, research shows

People falling over as a result of damaged pavements across the UK is costing the taxpayer up to £500m a year, new research has shown.

The findings highlight the need to prioritise the repair of dangerous pavements, charity Living Streets said, which estimated there could be as many as a million outdoor falls a year among adults aged over 65.

The government-funded research took into account emergency medical treatment and hospital, community and social care services, as well as personal injury claim pay-outs by local authorities.

Among the worst offending trip hazards are broken manhole covers, damaged street furniture and surface defects.

A "significant gap in information on outdoor falls" was discovered by researchers, who added priorities for road maintenance spending could change if more data was available.

Report author Dr Rachel Lee, Living Streets policy and research manager, said: "Poor pavements have a real cost with hospital admissions due to trips and falls placing a huge burden on NHS and local authority budgets.

"Prevention is better than cure.

"We need to prioritise funding for safe and hazard-free pavements, so older people can enjoy the health and social benefits that come from walking."

The Department for Transport funded the study.

Excluding the capital, the cost of repairing pavements across England, or keeping them in their current condition, has in the past been estimated at £1.7 billion.