Pothole claims soar but average payouts drop


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The worsening condition of Britain's roads has seen the number of compensation claims filed by motorists against local authorities soar, according to research conducted by The Telegraph.

Over 40,000 drivers claimed for damage done to their vehicles by poor quality road surfaces in 2013 – a sharp rise from the 25,977 recorded in 2012.

However, the actual amount paid out in individual cases has dropped, with the average driver now receiving just a sixth of the sum awarded to those whose cars were damaged by poor road surfaces in 2012.

The news comes as the Government announced a further £140million fund to tackle the backlog of road repairs, which have amounted due to continued poor weather.

Local authorities have previously accused the Government of denying them the funds to carry out proper resurfacing works on affected roads, with the lack of money allowing them to do little more than patchwork repairs, resulting in a rise in damage claims.

According to The Telegraph's study, around a fifth of compensation claims were successful, and that an average of £375 were paid out for each in 2013, compared to £1,565 in 2012 and £2,264 in 2011.

By comparison, a pothole costs around £50 to repair.

RAC spokesman Simon Williams, told the newspaper: "It is a big false economy. What they should be doing is resurfacing the roads properly at normal intervals rather than waiting until we get to this stage."

The current cost of the backlog in repairs to the UK's road network is estimated at £10.5billion. The fresh funding announced by Whitehall this week brings Government spending on road maintenance to £1billion this year.

Transport Sectretary Patrick McLoughlin said: "This extra money will help make a real difference to the millions of road users and local residents who rely on local roads, giving them safer and smoother journeys."

Under current law, motorists can claim compensation from councils for damage done to their vehicle by the roads, though they must prove that the authority was aware of a pothole's existence prior to the damage being caused.