Investing fuel duty back into road maintenance would allow councils to bring crumbling roads back up to scratch within a decade, the Local Government Association (LGA) has claimed.
The LGA, which represents more than 370 councils in England and Wales, said the government could inject a further £1 billion a year into roads maintenance by investing just two pence per litre of existing fuel duty. This should not be paid for by increasing fuel duty rates.
This could help councils tackle the damage done to our roads by recent harsh winters and decades of underfunding by successive governments which has seen the national backlog of road repairs rise to £12bn – up £1.5bn in the past year alone.
The government has recently responded to council calls for extra funding to repair local roads which include giving councils a share of a £168 million fund to fix potholes last month.
But the LGA says this is simply not enough to free councils trapped in an endless cycle of only being able to patch up a deteriorating network which will always be more expensive than longer-term preventative work.
The LGA wants the government to commit to vital long-term investment by handing councils a slice of fuel duty cash for road repairs and maintenance.
Councils will unveil a blueprint for the next government to tackle the key issues facing the country including how to fix our deteriorating roads at this week’s LGA annual conference.
Cllr Peter Box, chair of the LGA’s economy and transport board, said: “Our roads are in such disrepair that it will now take more than a decade and £12bn to bring them up to scratch. Tackling this ever-growing national repair bill must be a priority and the government can do this by injecting an extra £1bn a year into roads maintenance - funded by investing two pence a litre from existing fuel duty.
“Motorists pay billions to the Treasury each year in fuel duty when they fill up their car at the pumps only to then have to drive on roads that are decaying after decades of underfunding. They deserve roads fit for the 21st century.
“Reinvesting a small proportion of fuel duty would allow councils to bring our roads up to scratch over the next decade. Councils are fixing around two million potholes each year despite funding cuts and multi-million pound compensation costs for pothole damage but are trapped in an endless cycle of patching up our deteriorating network.
“This is leaving our country sleep-waking into a roads crisis that is escalating at an alarming pace. It will only get worse with the government’s own traffic projections predicting a potential increase in local traffic of more than 40% by 2040. Long-term and consistent investment and better use of motoring taxation is now desperately needed to allow councils to provide widespread improvement of our roads.”