The UK government has made a significant change in its funding allocation, redirecting £8.3 billion originally designated for the High Speed Rail 2 (HS2) extension to Manchester towards local road repairs. Transport Secretary Mark Harper has referred to this move as “the biggest ever funding uplift for local road improvements,” signaling a landmark commitment to addressing the state of the country’s roads.
The decision has been met with enthusiasm from motoring organizations and the road repair industry, who view the eleven-year funding commitment as a much-needed opportunity for local councils to effectively plan and execute maintenance projects, thereby putting an end to the persistent problem of pothole-ridden roads.
Under the new scheme, local highway authorities will receive an initial £150 million in the current financial year, followed by another £150 million in 2023/24. The remaining funds will be allocated until 2034. The government emphasizes that local councils will have the authority to identify the most critical roads in need of repair and implement immediate improvements to benefit communities and residents.
The decision to reallocate funds from the HS2 extension to Manchester demonstrates Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s intention to prioritize the restoration of the local road network, which is plagued by potholes. According to a recent poll conducted by the Automobile Association, 96 percent of drivers consider fixing potholes and investing in road maintenance a top priority. The RAC’s data supports this claim, revealing that drivers could face repair bills of up to £440 for suspension components damaged by potholes, ultimately costing UK drivers an estimated £200 million annually.
“Politicians have avoided making the necessary long-term decisions to alleviate hardships for hardworking families for far too long, and the issue of potholes is a prime example,” comments Sunak. He goes on to emphasize that the unprecedented £8.3 billion investment will pave the way for safer and more efficient journeys, eradicated by the nuisance of potholes that have plagued the country’s roads.
Transport Secretary Mark Harper declares that this funding demonstrates the government’s commitment to supporting drivers. He notes, “Potholes can cause misery for motorists, resulting in expensive vehicle repairs and hazardous travel experiences. Today’s historic funding uplift for local road improvements is a triumph for all road users who will now enjoy smoother, faster, and safer journeys.”
To ensure transparency and maximize the impact of the £8.3 billion investment, the Department of Transport has mandated that, starting from March 2024, councils will be required to publish their resurfacing plans online. By doing so, the department aims to enhance accountability and ensure that the funding leads to a substantial increase in resurfaced roads.
The announcement has received praise from various industry experts. Simon Williams, Head of Policy at the RAC, hails the scheme as a significant step forward. “The poor condition of local roads is a major concern for drivers. The government’s additional funding provides local councils with the financial certainty they need to plan long-term road maintenance, a request we have made for many years. This funding should significantly improve the state of UK roads and bring them back to a ‘fit for purpose’ condition.”
Chair of the Asphalt Industry Alliance, Rick Green, also welcomes the new funding, highlighting its importance in enabling local authorities to address the backlog of repairs. He believes that the commitment to long-term funding over the next 11 years will enable highways teams to implement more efficient road improvement works and enhance the overall resilience of the network.
1. What is the new allocation of funding by the UK government?
The UK government has redirected £8.3 billion from the High Speed Rail 2 extension to Manchester and allocated it to local road repairs.
2. How long will the funding be available for?
The funding will be available until 2034, spanning a duration of 11 years.
3. How will local councils identify the roads most in need of repair?
Local councils will have the authority to identify and prioritize the local roads requiring immediate repair and improvement.
4. Will councils be required to provide transparency regarding their road repair plans?
Starting from March 2024, councils will be required to publish their resurfacing plans online, ensuring transparency and accountability.
5. How will this funding affect the state of UK roads?
The funding is expected to significantly improve the state of UK roads, making them safer and more efficient for drivers.