A multi-billion pound “pothole plague” has ravaged the country’s road network because funds for repairs are no longer ring-fenced by local authorities, according to MPs.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Better Roads said that since 2021, when the government’s pothole action fund was incorporated into councils’ general block highway funding, the number of roads classed as ‘good’ had gone into reverse.

A report issued by the APPG showed that the pothole action fund, which was launched in 2015, was a successful policy which contributed to marked improvements in structural conditions on roads, until it ceased being ring-fenced.

Sir Christopher Chope MP, chairman of the APPG for Better Roads, said: “Both the Prime Minister and the Chancellor have pledged to tackle the ‘plague of potholes’ on our local roads. But, as this report shows, funding for local road maintenance is falling and the government’s assumption that hard pressed local authorities will spend allocations on roads is not enough.

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“The roll out of autonomous vehicles and decarbonising transport will place even greater funding pressure on our local road network in the years ahead.

“That’s why we are calling for a Better Roads Fund to be created with longer term funding commitments, budget ring-fencing and full transparency on allocation.”

Rick Green, chair of the Asphalt Industry Alliance, said its own report showed that the backlog of repairs on English local roads was now more than £12bn: “It’s not surprising that the APPG for Better Roads report highlights that targeted government action delivers better local road conditions and that a longer-term approach to investment with budget ring-fencing is what’s needed to make sure improvements are sustained,” he added.

“Local highway maintenance budget shortfalls only lead to declining road conditions and a rising bill to put it right.”