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Roads: Repairs and Maintenance

Volume 507: debated on Monday 8 March 2010

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what steps his Department is taking to ensure that local authorities have sufficient funding to undertake repairs and resurfacing work on roads for which they are responsible. (320591)

This Department has provided sustained levels of funding to local authorities to assist them to invest in their roads. Since the introduction of the Local Transport Plan (LTP) settlement in 2001-02 this Department has more than doubled annual capital funding to local authorities across England (outside London) for maintaining local roads. LTP capital funding for highway maintenance in 2009-10 is £736 million, up from £265 million in 2000-01. Funding in London is a matter for the Mayor.

Local authorities are also able to use revenue funding, allocated by the Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG) through the Formula Grant, for maintaining their local highways. Neither of these funding sources is ring-fenced. It is for local authorities to decide upon their spending priorities across the whole range of services that they provide.

In addition the Department has provided PFI funding to assist authorities to develop highway maintenance PFI schemes. Currently £2 billion PFI credits have been allocated for highways maintenance schemes. One project with allocated PFI credits of £121 million has been signed. In addition there are three projects in procurement with approved PFI credits of £1.5 billion. A further highway maintenance PFI project with approved funding of £365 million PFI credits is shortly to enter into procurement.

The Department has also provided emergency funding to local authorities to assist them to carry out repairs to their highways arising from extreme weather events.

We have also encouraged local authorities to adopt transport asset management plans. These will include inventories of highways assets, their existing condition, and the target condition based upon desired service levels. Knowledge of the condition of highways assets and the desired service level that an authority intends those assets to deliver, are key components in the process of deciding what expenditure is required.

A Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy report in July 2008 concluded that £15 million would be necessary to assist local authorities in Great Britain to develop transport asset management. Last year this Department allocated £32 million to assist English local authorities take forward highway asset management.