Emergency pothole funding “inefficient and short term” says latest ALARM survey

Potholes in the roads have increased by a third in the last year and time needed to clear the backlog in road maintenance work has grown from 12 to 13 years the 20th Annual Local Road Maintenance (ALARM) survey revealed today. And emergency funding to fill potholes was “wasted”.

Despite local authorities reporting an increase in their overall maintenance budget, one in six roads in England and Wales are still classed as being in poor condition and an estimated £12.16bn is needed to get the local road network back into reasonable condition.

"Essentially, the money spent on filling the 2.7 million potholes reported is wasted − it is inefficient and short term in its effectiveness." 

 “The government’s emergency funding for pothole and flood repair following last year’s wet winter has clearly contributed to the trends reported in this year’s survey,” chairman of the Asphalt Industry Alliance Alan Mackenzie. AIA produces the ALARM survey.

“Essentially, the money spent on filling the 2.7 million potholes reported is wasted − it is inefficient and short term in its effectiveness.

“So, while we understand that the Department for Transport is promoting permanent repairs, the point remains that money would be better spent preventing potholes forming in the first place.”

This year’s ALARM survey also reports that although authorities in England and Wales have seen their average annual budget shortfall drop by 24% (from £4.2 Min 2014 to £3.2M this year), the time it would take to clear the backlog has increased to 13 years (from 12 years in 2014).

Mackenzie added: “The £6bn of funding pledged between 2015 and 2021 is welcome, and hopefully will be confirmed by an incoming government. But the truth is that although it sounds like a big investment, it will only be enough for local authorities to tread water and it will do nothing to tackle the backlog or prevent continuing deterioration.”

He said around 85% of respondents acknowledged the benefits of structured road maintenance programmes as part of their long-term asset management plans.

“Research has shown that adopting an ‘invest to save’ approach pays dividends − with every planned investment in the road network providing long- term savings of more than twice the value.

“Moving forward, we need planned structural maintenance, resurfacing, strengthening and reconstruction.”

This year’s survey also shows a dramatic increase in the amount paid in road user compensation claims in England (excluding London) which, at £20.2M, has doubled since last year. The costs for local authorities associated with processing claims also rose, with staff costs exceeding £17.8M − the equivalent of 225 hours per month per authority.

The full ALARM survey is here at

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