Pothole claims reach £3.2m

26/01/2015
Highways Reporters

UK motorists claimed more than £3 million compensation for pothole damage last year, according to a survey carried out by the RAC Foundation.

Almost 50,000 drivers made claims against councils across Great Britain for damage caused to their vehicles by potholes in the last financial year.

The 200 (out of a total of 207) local highways authorities In England, Scotland and Wales who responded to Freedom of Information (FOI) requests by the RAC Foundation dealt with 48,664 compensation claims in the 2013/14 financial year.

This is the equivalent of roughly one claim being submitted every 11 minutes day and night, 365 days a year and an increase on the 2012/13 figure of 46,139 claims.

However councils refused the majority of claims, agreeing to pay out in less than a quarter (23%) of cases.

The total value of successful claims was £3.2 million.

The average payout for a successful claim in 2013/14 was £286, down from £357 the year before.

The average administration cost of each claim – successful or not – was £147.

Summary table:















































Figures for financial year 2013/14


(Figures in brackets are for the financial year 2012/13)


Total number of claims made to local authority highways authoritiesNumber of successful claimsPercentage of all claims that were successfulTotal value of successful claimsAverage council admin cost per claim
England

 
42,662

(38,627)

 
9,792

(9,064)
23%

(24%)
£2.9 million

(£3.5 million)
£164

(£166)
Scotland

 
4,511

(5,846)

 
1,126

(2,299)
25%

(39%)
£228,000

(£510,000)
£109

(£109)
Wales

 
1,491

(1,666)

 
266

(401)
18%

(24%)
£73,000

(£141,000)
£97

(£110)
GREAT BRITAIN

 
48,664

(46,139)

 
11,184

(11,764)
23%

(26%)
£3.2 million

(£4.2 million)
£147

(£150)

 

Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “These figures are likely to be the tip of the iceberg. Many drivers will be put off by the time involved in claiming against a council, and many councils do their best to deter claimants coming forward.

“But the fundamental problem lies not at the doors of our town halls but with central government. Despite occasional one-off grants related to periods of harsh weather, they are simply not giving councils enough money to keep their road networks up to scratch.

“In England, local authorities themselves estimate the maintenance backlog to be about £12 billion yet over the past five years spending on roads in real terms has dropped 22% across England and Wales.

“Worn out road surfaces do not simply cause damage to vehicles they are also potentially lethal, particularly for two-wheeled road users.

“This is not an anti-HS2 argument, but how can a government commit to a £50 billion scheme like that when a vital infrastructure network on which nine out of ten passenger miles takes place crumbles away? This is about prioritisation and our roads should be at the top of the list. That’s not just our view, it is a regular response from the public when they are asked to give their transport priorities.”
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