Councils not spending government's Potholes Fund

Road resurfacing

Comparing the two pothole funds, the MPs said: “All indications are that the Pothole Action Fund made a clear improvement between 2015 and 2020. It was extra funding, but it was allocated directly to local highway maintenance. With the Potholes Fund being merged into more general road funding, this has reversed.”

Their conclusions were echoed by Rick Green, chairman of the AIA, who said: “Our view is that the targeted and accountable nature of the Pothole Action Fund greatly contributed to its effectiveness. It was no surprise to us that the gains made during its life were subsequently lost.”

Shortly after the current Potholes Fund was announced, the government said it was making £5.5bn available for the maintenance and repair of local roads for the same period, 2020 to 2025. This may have given the impression that this money was in addition to the £2.5bn Potholes Fund, but it was actually a part of it. An additional £200m for the Potholes Fund was also announced, but this was likewise part of the £5.5bn.

As with the Potholes Fund, the balance of the £5.5bn fund isn’t ring-fenced.

A spokesperson for the Department for Transport (DfT) said that not ring-fencing the money “means local authorities can choose how they spend it on maintaining their respective networks” and “funding can be spent on all parts of the highway, including bridges, lighting columns and other infrastructure”. To date, around £4.5bn of the £5.5bn has been spent.

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