The roads sector has been left wondering where £75m originally allocated to the Government's Safer Roads Fund will be spent, after the minister said the fund had 'done its job'.
In June, Jesse Norman MP told Parliament that £100m of what was initially a £175m fund had been allocated but 'the additional £75m initially allocated for the work has not been required'.
However, last week he told Labour MP Stephen Hepburn: ‘The £75m to which he refers was not underspent; the whole fund was used for the 50 schemes that were applied for and was fully discharged for that.’
At the recent ADEPT conference, Mr Norman was asked by Highways whether the remaining £75m would be spent on road safety or subsumed into other budgets.
He replied: ‘The fund has done its job. The fund was designed to fund the 50 worst performing roads. And it has done that and in due course we may - I'm sure we will - based on the very excellent results, as verified by the RAC [Foundation], want to go back and look at the next tranche of roads, but that funding has done its job and very well too.
‘What's interesting is that the returns that the RAC has so discovered I think are not only inspiring themselves but potentially agenda-setting for a next round of potential investment.’
The £100m that was spent from the Safer Roads Fund paid for improvements to 48 high risk roads, using the International Road Assessment Programme (iRAP) methodology.
After analysing the schemes, the Road Safety Foundation (RSF) and the RAC Foundation assessed that the total value of the prevention of harm across the 48 schemes, over a 20-year period, will be £550m.
The RSF subsequently said that a further £75m spent on another 40 high risk roads could prevent 1,100 fatalities and serious injuries over 20 years.
In the Budget, the Treasury announced £420m new money for highways maintenance.
Labour’s shadow road safety minister, Karl Turner MP, has tabled parliamentary questions asking what has happened to the remaining £75m in the Safer Roads Fund and what the Government is doing to improve safety on single carriageway roads on the strategic road network (SRN).
It follows the disclosure in a report by the RSF that 10% of travel on SRN single carriageways is on ‘unacceptably high risk’ sections.