The 2023 Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) survey, published today [March 21, 2023] by the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA) has revealed that local authority highway bodies in England and Wales have only received about two-thirds of the funding needed to prevent further deterioration of local roads, meaning more than £14bn is needed to fix the backlog of repairs.
This marks an 11% increase in the figure from last year, with the works expected to take an average of 11 years to complete, according to the AIA.
Despite minor increases in highway maintenance budgets, less of this money is being allocated to carriageways themselves, the survey revealed.
What’s more, rising costs associated with inflation mean some engineers have reported being forced to delay or cancel road works.
The data showed that, in the last year, the gap between received funding and what councils said they needed to prevent further decline in road conditions reached £1.3bn, representing a jump of more than 20% compared with figures from 2021/22.
This is also the highest amount reported in 28 years of successive ALARM surveys.
Rick Green, AIA Chair, said: “Highway engineers can only do so much with the resources they are given and should be applauded for the steps they take to keep roads safe.”
“Potholes and the condition of our local roads remain key issues for the public and the chancellor went someway to recognising this in his Spring Budget. But the additional £200m one-off payment for local roads in England, while welcome, is just not enough. It represents around 20% of the average shortfall in English local authorities’ annual budgets and will do little to improve overall structural conditions and stem further decline.
“We all appreciate that there are difficult choices to make with demands and pressures on the public purse coming from every area, but not investing in local road maintenance only leads to worsening conditions, which impact on other locally provided public services, a rising bill to fix the problem and more road user complaints.”
This year’s ALARM survey received responses from 75% of local authorities in England and Wales. The findings of the 2023 survey relate to the 2022/23 financial year.
What’s more, the AIA reported that 18% of the network (almost 37,000 miles) is already assessed as having less than five years’ of structural life remaining and that roads are only resurfaced on average once every 116 years.