The announcement of the provisional Local Government Finance Settlement underlines the increased difficulties that highway authorities face trying to maintain the local road network warns the Road Surface Treatments Association (RSTA).
The provisional statement, to be finalised by next February, will see councils across England receiving 8.8% less funding from government to run local services from April 2015. In all, local councils will have to find further savings of £2.6 billion. This brings the total reduction in core government funding to councils since 2010 to 40%. Councils report that efficiency savings can only go so far and that the continued reduction in funding will result in key services being withdrawn.
“The concern is that local authorities will be forced to raid other dwindling budgets in order to ‘rob Peter to pay Paul’,” said Howard Robinson, RSTA chief executive. “This could see unprotected road maintenance budgets being used to fund other council services. The result will be further deterioration and more potholes in the local road network.”
He continued: “It is ironic that the government has recently made a big splash about its £15 billion investment in the strategic road network, which represents just 2% of our road network. Yet the 98% of local roads, without which you could not access the motorways and trunk roads, continue to face a maintenance funding crisis.”