The RHA has given a cautious welcome to the government’s plan to provide £8.3bn worth of funding to repair potholes but said the money needs to be ringfenced and boosted with other funding sources, if it is to succeed in tackling the problem.

The association’s warning comes on Britain’s National Pothole Day (15 January), which is organised by British Cycling, the AA, JCB, the National Motorcyclists Council, the British Motorcyclists Federation and IAM RoadSmart and is demanding better pothole management from the government.

The group is warning that Britain’s roads are getting worse, with the AA revealing that it dealt with 631,852 pothole-related incidents in 2023, the highest for five years. Those incidents are made up of wheel, tyre, steering and suspension issues caused by hitting potholes. 

Almost 630,000 potholes were reported to councils in England, Scotland and Wales between January and November 2023, a five-year high, according to local government data compiled by campaign group Round Our Way, following a Freedom of Information request. Data was only available from 115 out of 208 councils approached,indicating that the total number of reported potholes is likely to be much higher.

The recently announced £8.3bn of government funding will be made available for resurfacing, with the funds sourced from scrapped HS2 plans. 

James Barwise, RHA Policy advisor, said that if local authorities are provided with the tools to get on with the job, the cost of repairing potholes would decrease considerably.

”Across the country, we see roads in disrepair, with the latest figures from the RAC showing a record high in pothole-related vehicle breakdowns. There is also insufficient capacity on the network to accommodate current travel demand – let alone meet the demand which expected in the future,” he warned.

“The results of the 2022 ALARM survey demonstrated a considerable disparity in costs, with planned works costing an average of 35% less than reactive repairs in England (£46 planned; £71 reactive) and 57% less in Wales (£45 planned; £105 reactive).

”Councils have warned that the full cost of repair to our network is around the £14bn mark, and this funding as such may only cover reactive rather than planned works,” he added.

Barwise called on the government to continue supporting local authorities, ”not just with releasing further funding, but providing training and access to new technologies, which can result in repairs which are longer lasting and more cost-efficient.

”And so, on National Pothole Day we welcome how the government is slowly waking up to the problem, but far more needs to be done for us to deliver a road network which our drivers deserve.”