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Potholes cost the UK economy £14 billion every year



Potholes plaguing British roads exact a heavy toll on the economy, with the total cost surpassing £14 billion annually, according to recent findings.

Potholes on Britain’s roads are taking a heavy toll on the economy, with the total cost exceeding £14 billion annually according to recent findings.

The Center for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) sheds light on the multifaceted impact of road damage, including repair costs, traffic accidents, commute delays and increased emissions.

Douglas McWilliams, vice-chairman of CEBR, highlighted the alarming deterioration of Britain’s roads, comparing conditions to those in emerging economies such as India. He attributes this trend mainly to reduced investments in road maintenance, lamenting the negative consequences for the quality of infrastructure.

Last year, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced a £200 million injection into the pothole repair fund, increasing the annual allocation to £700 million. However, doubts remain over the full utilization of these pothole remediation funds as highway authorities retain discretion over spending priorities.

The total cost of fixing existing potholes, estimated at £16.3 billion, underlines the urgency of tackling this problem. McWilliams emphasizes the feasibility of rebuilding every road in the country within 14 months using these funds, highlighting the stark disparity between cost-effective solutions and policy decisions.

Despite the increasing economic burden of potholes, expenditure on road maintenance by English local authorities has fallen by more than 20% since 2006, further increasing the number of road defects. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the use of substandard fillers by private contractors worsens the problem, necessitating repeated repairs and increasing costs.

The economic impact extends beyond repair costs, with pothole-induced reductions in car speed increasing CO2 emissions by around 3%. Roadside assistance service RAC has reported an increase in calls for damage caused by potholes, highlighting a worsening road infrastructure crisis.

With the current cold snap and increased rainfall worsening road damage, motorists are at greater risk of vehicle damage and accidents. Potholes caused car damage worth £1.5 billion last year, with local authorities in England paying £23 million in compensation for pothole-related incidents.

The cumulative impact of potholes on the economy includes 1.3 billion hours of additional travel time, underscoring the urgent need for comprehensive solutions to address road infrastructure challenges and ensure public safety and economic stability.