There has been a 45% fall in road maintenance being undertaken by councils in the UK over the last five years, according to the latest analysis by the RAC.

In its detailed look at government statistics, the motoring organisation has revealed that 3,366 fewer miles of road surfaces were repaired in the last financial year than in 2017/18. Anyone driving on the UK’s roads would probably not be surprised at those figures. Potholes have become a significant political issue, and one of those most likely to get passions heated on a local level – as well as a major problem for fleets, with pothole damage costing £474 million in the past year.

According to the figures, 764 miles of A roads were strengthened, resurfaced or preserved in 2022/23, 458 miles less than five years previously. 3,380 miles of B, C and unclassified roads saw repairs made, a drop of nearly 3,000 miles over 2017/18. Only 4% of A roads in the UK had resurfacing or preservation treatment.

“These figures lay bare just how little resurfacing and life-extending preservation work councils have managed to carry out in the last financial year,” said Simon Williams, RAC head of policy. “We suspect this means road maintenance in England has reached a new low point – a sorry state of affairs considering how car-dependent the country is.  

“It’s especially concerning to see that so few miles of A roads received any form of road maintenance last year when these important routes are used by millions of drivers every day. Meanwhile, our minor roads that are essential in connecting rural areas have received barely a crumb of the pie.”

In December the government announced an £8.3bn resurfacing programme to address the pothole crisis, but the RAC feel that is insufficient.

“We believe a proportion of money raised through fuel duty should be ringfenced to give councils the certainty of additional dedicated roads maintenance funding for years to come”, said Williams.