Government funding for road improvements ‘does not go far enough’, says FTA

Government funding for local road improvements ‘does not go far enough’, says FTA

Government funding of almost £350 million to improve local roads does not go far enough to tackle the problem nationwide, says the Freight Transport Association (FTA). 

The DfT announced last week that the funding will be made available to councils over the next four years to improve local roads up and down the country, helping to ease congestion and fix potholes.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: “Local roads are the backbone of the transport network for drivers up and down the country, but we know that some aren’t up to the standard they need to be. Whether it’s congestion or quality, we need to empower local authorities to invest in these roads and make journeys safer and stress-free.

“That’s exactly what this funding will do – over four years we’re providing more than a third of a billion pounds to make sure local authorities have the cash they need to make this a reality.

In response, FTA’s Malcolm Bingham, Head of Road Network Policy, said: “FTA’s members have been very clear, that the road network has been subject to chronic underinvestment for many years. Taxes on UK road transport are the highest in Europe, yet our roads continue to be underfunded: HGVs alone pay enough tax to fund more than 90% of the current amount spent on road maintenance in the UK.  

“While this £348 million investment in the local road network is welcome, it still does not go far enough to tackle the problem nationwide. Estimates show it would cost £9.79 billion* and take ten years for highways departments to resolve all the road repairs currently needed.  FTA’s members and their vehicles are taking the hit for a chronic lack of underinvestment in the UK’s roads network, and we hope that this investment marks the start of a longer term, more comprehensive road improvement strategy, which is needed to keep the UK’s supply chain moving.” 

The new funding will be released in two tranches. The first pot of investment, the Challenge Fund, will be available for this year and the next, with just under £200 million on offer. Councils will be able to bid for projects that will improve the quality of roads and surrounding infrastructure. In particular, the funding could be put toward sorting major pothole repairs.

The second set of funding, the Pinch Point Fund, will be made available in 2021/22 and 2022/23 and totals £150 million. It will go towards council projects designed to help ease congestion on some of their busiest roads. Previous examples of projects funded through Pinch Point include improving the links between the A12 and A143.

*According to the ALARM (Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance) Survey 2019, published by the Asphalt Industry Alliance.