Budget bid to repair 50 million potholes branded a gimmick by Opposition

A £2.5 billion drive to repair 50 million potholes over the next five years which is expected to feature in Wednesday’s Budget has been branded a rehashed gimmick by the Opposition.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is set to target the money particularly at the south west, east of England, and north west – but Labour has attacked the Government’s record on roads and transport.

The Treasury said action is needed to improve infrastructure and deal with a situation where 90% of insurance claims are related to pothole damage.

Injury causing crashes involving potholes are three times more likely to impact a cyclist or biker, according to the Government.

How a pothole forms (PA Graphics)

The Chancellor said: “We can’t level up Britain and spread opportunity if we are spending our journeys dodging potholes and forking out for the damage they cause.

“It’s vital we keep roads in good condition.

“That’s why we are going to eradicate the scourge of potholes in every part of the country.

“This funding will fill millions of potholes every year – speeding up journeys, reducing vehicle damage and making our roads safer.”

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell branded the move a gimmick.

Mr McDonnell told the PA news agency: “This rehash of Theresa May’s pothole fund is another policy announcement that shows the Tories trying to patch up problems they have created without getting a grip on the underlying state of infrastructure in this country.

“The Tories have created a £192 billion infrastructure investment hole over the last decade, and throughout that time they have failed to adopt a strategy for investment in the long-term.

“In this week’s Budget the Tories are repeating their mistake of the last 10 years, shelving the National Infrastructure Strategy in place of a gimmicky grab-bag of projects, which is likely only to leave the public let down and disappointed.”

The Local Government Association’s transport spokesman Councillor David Renard said: “We are pleased the Chancellor has listened to and acted on our calls for significantly more funding to fill and repair potholes.

“Fixing our roads is a top priority for councils, who fix a pothole every 17 seconds.

“To help councils go further to maintain our roads, they need devolved infrastructure and public transport budgets – ensuring a funding allocation in advance for five years, which would enable them to deliver infrastructure improvements that allow people to move around in less carbon intensive and more sustainable ways.”

Potholes in roads
A pothole is filled every 17 seconds, sayds the LGA (Martin Keene/PA)

John O’Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “The Government is right to prioritise frontline problems like potholes, but funding should be found from other bloated budgets, not increases to the already burgeoning tax burden.

“Potholes are a scourge so it is a sensible problem for the Government to address, though the money needs to be raised from cutting waste, not hiking taxes.”

The Treasury said that the £2 billion pledged to deal with potholes in the Tory general election manifesto has been boosted by a further £500 million.

The Chancellor said funding will also be available for local authorities to undertake longer-term road resurfacing works to prevent potholes from appearing.

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