Today’s ALARM survey shows that the ‘one-time catch up cost’, also known as the backlog of repairs cost, on the local road network now stands at £11.8bn in England and Wales, down slightly on 2015 but still up from £9.8bn in 2012.
Roads are the most important infrastructure network for UK manufacturers. Additionally, the number one challenge cited by manufacturers in their local business environment is the state of local transport networks.
The local road network is worth an estimated £300bn, and that doesn’t include the economic and other benefits derived from using that network.
These include giving people access to jobs and business access to wide talent pools as well as sending and receiving goods and supplies.
This is just one reason why manufacturers want local areas to make a down payment on transport as part of devolution. Particularly as they see local roads as the network that is deteriorating the most.
Maintenance needs to be taken more seriously
Local authorities, LEPs and other bodies such as Sub-National Transport Bodies, must take maintenance seriously and spend more in the coming years to repair their network – it may not be an exciting topic but it is just as important as the construction of new roads to unlock development.
The government also needs to pump more money into fixing the situation. While they have committed £5.8bn from 2015/16 to 2020/21 for local roads maintenance, this is a modest increase of on average £100m in cash terms against the previous 6 year period.
Our view is that from 2020/21 any surplus in England’s Roads Fund should be diverted to newly created Mayors as a transport capital budget. In 2020/21 the new Roads Fund, which is currently earmarked for just the motorway network, will have a £1bn surplus against budgeted spending.
An Infrastructure Bill is widely expected in the upcoming Queen’s Speech and that will be the opportune moment for the government to cement this extension, so that we can start getting the backlog of repairs down and support future growth and productivity in our local economies.