Local Highways to receive £8.3bn of highways maintenance funding

17th Nov 2023

New road repair fund announced

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Today (17 November 2023), Transport Secretary Mark Harper has set out the allocations of an £8.3 billion long-term plan, one of the key cornerstones of the government’s Network North proposal.

Across England, local highway authorities will receive £150 million this financial year, followed by a further £150 million for 2024/2025, with the rest of the funding allocated through to 2034.

Sue Percy CBE, Chief Executive, CIHT said:

“CIHT welcomes this announcement as everyone depends on the UK’s network of local highways; they are at the heart of our communities and these arteries of our country need to be invested in to ensure fitness to compete in the global economy.”

“Despite the efforts of central and local government, the local highway network (LHN) is not in a good state and not up to the job of supporting the country’s ambitions for the future. We hope that this funding will go some way to help alleviate some of these problems.”

“Whilst we welcome this announcement, CIHT believe that this will not fully address the funding requirement and the ageing of the asset will continue to create more challenges. Without a new strategy, the LHN cannot help businesses to increase productivity, realise their economic opportunities and deliver what the nation needs for a sustainable future.”

“This announcement is a clear response to our ongoing call for the government to provide the vision and certainty for the sector on highways and transportation projects and programmes.”

The government has announced that each local authority can use its share of the £8.3 billion to identify what local roads are in most need of repair and deliver immediate improvements for communities and residents. This is divided as:

  • £3.3 billion for local authorities in the North West, North East and Yorkshire and the Humber
  • £2.2 billion for local authorities in the West Midlands and East Midlands
  • £2.8 billion for local authorities in the East of England, South East, South West and, for the first time in 8 years, London.

Matthew Lugg OBE, Past President, CIHT and Director of Local Transport, WSP said:

“This significant additional funding over 10 years creates the opportunity for local highway authorities to move from the current very reactive approach (just fixing potholes) to having the ability to be more proactive in their application. This could facilitate the welcome move to effective longer-term solutions including reconstruction and resurfacing schemes, the application of a more strategic (and targeted) asset management approach and the ability to spread the funding across all highway assets groups such as footways, structures etc. “

Sue Percy CBE, Chief Executive, CIHT said:

“Our previous recommendations have included the need to establish a new inflation-linked local highways fund (on top of the current funding); creation of an improved system of monitoring and a national condition database.”

“CIHT believe that through the recommendations outlined in ‘Improving Local Highways’, we can show how the highway network will support the delivery of a carbon-neutral system, create sustainable, green, resilient, and accessible places, make transport healthier, and help the economy grow. CIHT believe these recommendations should be used by Government as they consider the Autumn Statement in relation to the local highway network and the key role that it plays.”

The full report and supporting research is available here and a copy is available here CIHT - Improving Local Highways - the route to a better future.pdf

Recommendations from Improving Local Highways

CIHT proposes four key recommendations to the UK government that will create a vision, funding and a focus on the Local Highway Network (LHN) over the next ten years.

Recommendation 1: Create a new focus for the LHN

  1. Establish an improved system of monitoring that (a) gives clarity on how the LHN is performing, and (b) includes comparisons of efficiency, effectiveness, and innovation in delivery
  2. Encourage greater collaboration through providing an appropriate incentive funding regime
  3. Define how local highways meet the economic and social requirements of local areas: roads for places, roads for distribution, roads for access (both rural and suburban), and roads for sustainable and active transport
  4. Show how the highway network will support the delivery of a carbon-neutral system, create sustainable, green, resilient, and accessible places, make transport healthier, and help the economy grow
  5. Define what people can expect from the LHN, underpinned by an outcome-based service specification and guidance for local authorities and other practitioners
  6. Review regulations and legislation relevant to the LHN

Recommendation 2: Commit to establishing an inflation-linked local highways fund

  1. Establish a 10-year additional funding settlement (should be additional to the current annual capital and revenue funding that local authorities receive for highway maintenance) of £15 billion TOTEX to address the maintenance backlog
  2. Agree a 10-year local highways fund - leading to improved efficiencies and effectiveness in the management and maintenance of the LHN, including incentivisation to deliver wider outcomes for people and society (would allow maintenance to facilitate active travel, supporting the decarbonisation agenda whilst improving peoples’ health)
  3. Allocate an initial £7.5 billion from the fund for the first five years, distributed to local authorities on a yearly increasing basis as a new national asset conditions dataset is introduced
  4. Allocate a further £7.5 billion from the fund for the second five-year period, with distribution taking account of local authority performance, asset conditions, road function and increasing length.

Recommendation 3: Create a better understanding of the asset through improved data

  1. Create an up-to-date database of national condition information for all key highway assets
  2. Update techniques for collecting data using the latest technology
  3. Develop a standard measure to calculate the required funding based on common standards of serviceability from a customer perspective

Recommendation 4: Establish new sources of funding to support the local highways fund

  1. Improve the efficiency of how funding is allocated to local highway authorities by reducing the number of complicated funding mechanisms and bidding processes
  2. Government should identify and develop alternative and additional sources of revenue to finance the future funding of local highways, including moves to where utilities pay the real cost of reinstatement. CIHT sees opportunities for road pricing to address congestion, reduce carbon and provide a potential funding source.

About the project

'Improving Local Highways' was the culmination of a two-year research project that analysed the state of local highways and explored new solutions to funding, resource and maintenance challenges identified. Contributors were drawn from a wide range across highways and transportation and included representatives from the public and private sector.

For more information, please contact e: communications@ciht.org.uk


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