Council leaders have admitted the money they cut from road maintenance funding since 2010 could have paid for the repair of nearly eight million potholes.
The Local Government Association (LGA) admitted slashing budgets for roads as part of its lobbying of ministers ahead of this year's Spending Review in order to call for a long-term funding plan ‘to save our roads’.
It said the latest figures show the money councils spent on routine road maintenance has fallen from £1.1bn in 2009/10 to around £701m in 2017/18 – a cut of 37%.
The LGA, which represents councils in England and Wales, estimates that this reduction could have covered the cost of repairing 7.8 million potholes.
Jack Cousens, head of roads policy for the AA said: ‘Arguably, the councils’ largest asset is local roads, and for nearly a decade they have not been looked after properly.
‘We have some sympathy with local authorities, continuous cut backs have meant that their priorities have made them focus on social care. But it means the poor state of the roads has led to damaged vehicles and at times serious injuries to those on two wheels.’
The LGA said that with councils having lost 60p out of every £1 in central government funding between 2010 and 2020, services such as road maintenance were 'stripped back’ to pay for an ongoing surge in demand for children’s services, adult social care support and homelessness support.
LGA transport spokesman Cllr Martin Tett said: ‘It is not right that the Government spends 43 times per mile more on maintaining our national roads – which make up just 3% of all roads – than on local roads, which are controlled by councils and make up 97% of England’s road network.
‘We need government to follow with a long-term funding plan to save our roads in the Spending Review.’
RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes said: 'These figures, as well as the report from the Transport Committee out earlier this week, show that the case for the Government taking a fresh approach to funding Britain’s vital local roads is now compelling.
‘Only a long-term funding plan, ideally through ring-fencing of some existing fuel duty receipts, will deliver the improvements that communities want to see up and down the country.’