National Roads Fund: Just £426m in two years for local roads

Chris Ames

The Department for Transport (DfT) has insisted that it will fund ‘over 50’ local road upgrades during this Parliament from its flagship National Roads Fund (NRF) despite allocating just £426m in two years and funding only eight schemes so far.

In response to a written parliamentary question from Labour's shadow communities secretary, Steve Reed, transport minister Rachel Maclean disclosed that the DfT’s forecast expenditure in 2020/21 on Major Road Network (MRN) and Large Local Major schemes is £116m, while £310m has been budgeted in 2021/22.'

She added: ‘The budgets for future years are subject to the next Spending Review.’

This total of £426m over two years compares with the £3.5bn that ministers originally said the NRF would provide for local road upgrades from 2020/21 to 2024/25 through the MRN and Large Local Majors.

As Highways has reported, ministers have quietly shifted around £2bn from local roads funding under the NRF, which comes from Vehicle Excise Duty, to pay for additional costs under the second Road Investment Strategy (RIS 2) for the strategic network.

Analysis by Highways shows that existing announcements account for nearly all of the cash budgeted so far. This covers capital funding for eight schemes and development funding for around 20 other schemes.

The 2021/22 budget of £310m matches the amount that the National Infrastructure Strategy said would be spent upgrading the road network during the year.

The document stated: ‘This will support investment in over 50 schemes in this Parliament such as North Hykeham relief road and crossings in both Lake Lothing and Great Yarmouth due to start construction shortly.’

In fact, the Lake Lothing crossing is funded through the Local Growth Fund.

In addition to the two NRF schemes in the NIS, which cost £208m, in February the DfT announced funding totalling £93m for two further MRN schemes and one Large Local Major – a total cost of £301m.

This accounts for almost all of the £310m allocation for 2021/22; however, the DfT told Highways that some funding for these schemes would come from future years’ allocations over the course of the Parliament.

In February the DfT announced £56m to 'overhaul’ the Kex Gill section of the A59

Prior to publication of the NIS, ministers had announced two MRN schemes at York and in Cumbria totalling £38m, as well as £60m for a section of the North Devon Road Link – a Large Local Major scheme for which funding was agreed in 2018.

It appears that the remainder of the 2020/21 spending was for development funding, including six schemes announced by the prime minister in February 2020 and a raft of MRN schemes that the following month’s Budget announced would proceed to the next stage.

The DfT also conceded that the ‘over 50’ schemes cited in the NIS will not, as claimed, all be supported from the £310m for 2021/22 but said they will be delivered during the current Parliament and funded from the NRF, despite there being no further committed funding.

A spokesperson said the schemes are currently scheduled to be funded assuming their deadlines are met as currently set out and that actual amounts of funding in each year are agreed in Spending Reviews.

Highways jobs

Support Engineer

£30.585 - £31.557
This is a great opportunity to join a thriving and passionate team. In return, we offer a range of benefits which include... Greenwich, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Royal Borough of Greenwich

Engineer (Design and Construction)

£32,234 - £35,745
Applications are sought from experienced Civil and Highways Engineers looking to further their careers in engineering Denbighshire (Sir Ddinbych)
Recruiter: Denbighshire County Council

Waste Services Driver / Loaders

£21,989 to £24,447 per annum
The waste and recycling service is offering Driver/Loader positions. You will need to be a HGV driver and hold your driver CPC card. York, North Yorkshire
Recruiter: City of York Council

Senior Environmental Health Officer

£40.869 - £43.860
We would like to hear from exceptional candidates with broad experience of Private Sector Licensing Schemes, enforcement, and with a... Greenwich, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Royal Borough of Greenwich

Vehicle Technician

£24,982 - £29,577 per annum
This role is permanent for applicants with a Class C Driving Licence.  Sandwell, West Midlands
Recruiter: Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council

Senior Sustainability Officer (Homes)

£43,860 - £46,839 p.a. inc.
We are looking for a highly driven, creative, flexible and resilient candidate with understanding of... Brent, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Brent Council

Head of Climate, Environment and Waste – South Cambridgeshire District and Cambridge City Councils

£75,619 - £90,288 per annum
We’ve been recognised nationally for our environmental focus and efforts to lead local climate change issues. Cambourne, Cambridge
Recruiter: South Cambridgeshire District Council

Senior Engineer - Structures

£44,632 - £49,298
We’re looking for talented individuals to be part of our expanding team working on everything from local schemes to large £multi-million projects. Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire
Recruiter: Milton Keynes Council

Senior Technician (Structures)

£30.451 - £34.728
We’re looking for talented individuals to be part of our expanding team working on everything from local schemes to large £multi-million projects. Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire
Recruiter: Milton Keynes Council

Head of Parking & Customer Engagement

£56,100- £63,633 per annum
We are looking for a Head of Parking and Customer Engagement to join us at this critical time for Hounslow. Reporting to the Assistant Director of... London (Greater)
Recruiter: Hounslow London Borough Council

Head of Traffic & Capital Delivery

£56,100 - £63,633 per annum
We are looking for a Head of Traffic and Capital Delivery to join us at this critical time for Hounslow. Reporting to... London (Greater)
Recruiter: Hounslow London Borough Council

Environmental Health Officers (EHORB registered/chartered)

£37,638 - £43,659 per annum
We are looking for 2 x enthusiastic and driven environmental health practitioners to join the Rogue Landlord Taskforce as... Camden, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Camden London Borough Council

Principal Transport & Infrastructure Planning Officer

£51510 - £59400 per annum
Two year fixed term contract with a potential for extension, subject to budget and workload.Calling all transport planners - are you seeking a new ch England, Essex, Chelmsford
Recruiter: Essex County Council

Local Highways Officer

£22,183 - £32,234
We are looking for an enthusiastic candidate who preferably has experience of highway maintenance or a technical background. Cambridgeshire
Recruiter: Cambridgeshire County Council

Structures Asset Manager

£61,334 - £69,090 per annum (salary dependent on experience)
This full-time role will all be primarily based in KCC’s Ashford Henwood depot but travel within Kent will be expected to meet the demands of... Kent
Recruiter: Kent County Council

Highway Operations Manager

£31,339 to £35,754 per annum
The Council is committed to investing in the talent and wellbeing of our staff and can offer a generous annual leave allowance, access to... York, North Yorkshire
Recruiter: City of York Council

HS2 Senior Highways Approvals Officer

£36984 - £38881 per annum
OverviewWith construction work well underway, the impact of High-Speed Two has already been felt by our local communities and businesses across the co England, Buckinghamshire, Aylesbury
Recruiter: Buckinghamshire Council

Principal Sustainability and Climate Change Officer

£40,876 – £42,821 per annum
This is an exciting time for an experienced professional to lead on measures to address the Council’s declaration of a climate emergency Trafford, Greater Manchester
Recruiter: Trafford Council

Deputy Team Manager

£43,860 - £46,839 p.a. inc.
The successful candidate will also be making sure that the practice within the team is fair and professional at all times. Wembley, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Brent Council

Head of Climate Action

£57,817 - £65,823
Driving change to address the climate emergency Stockport, Greater Manchester
Recruiter: Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council

Highways Presents

Highways on Fridays

Register now!

Latest Issue

latest magazine issue


  • ALARM survey - will the Government listen to long-term funding pleas?
  • The benefits and costs of benefit cost ratios
  • An international winter service tour
View the latest issue

Latest Video