The allocation to councils of £578 million local highways maintenance incentive funding has been announced. Making the announcement at last week’s Road Surface Treatments Association (RSTA) annual conference, Roads Minister Andrew Jones MP congratulated the highways maintenance sector for coming a long way over the past few years: “by becoming more efficient and by adopting better principles of asset management and by working more collaboratively.”
The incentive fund scheme was established to reward those councils who demonstrate they are delivering value for money and best practice in carrying out cost-effective highway maintenance. Each local highway authority in England (excluding London) were invited to complete a self-assessment questionnaire based on 22 criteria and to use the results to place themselves in one of three Bands. For 2016-17 only highway authorities in Bands 2 and 3 will receive their full allocation. The allocation percentages for Bands 1 and 2 will decrease each year until 2020-21 when those in Band 1 will not receive anything and those in Band 2 will receive 30%. Councils in Band 3 will continue to receive 100% of their allocation. For 2016-17, 16 highway authorities were in Band 3, 64 were in Band 2 and 18 were in Band 1.
“The Department for Transport’s incentive fund is about rewarding performance and encouraging improvement”, said Howard Robinson, RSTA chief executive. “With limited budgets, highway authorities need to work with each other and with industry to ensure that they get more-for-less. That involves adopting asset management, increased collaboration and sharing of best practice and a readiness to embrace innovation.”
He continued: “The majority of highway authorities are currently in Bands 1 and 2. These authorities must improve if they are to receive their full allocation. For its part, the road maintenance sector is ready to work with highway authorities to help them achieve Band 3 status.”