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Government to pledge billions for filling potholes

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  • Budget 2020
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The government is set to pledge billions of pounds to fix potholes in England at Wednesday's Budget.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak will announce £2.5bn in funding, or a £500m bonus each year for the next five years.

He said: "We are going to eradicate the scourge of potholes in every part of the country."

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said the announcement was part of a "gimmicky grab-bag of projects".

At the time of the 2019 general election the Conservative Party promised £2bn for filling potholes as part of its National Infrastructure Strategy.

In the most recent spending round, £1bn was allocated to road maintenance in England in 2020-21. The additional £500m in funding will top up the spend to £1.5bn, just exceeding the £1.3bn spent in 2018-19.

The previous pledge was also billed as costing £500m a year in the Conservative manifesto costings document.

HM Treasury said the funding package will also be available to local authorities to start resurfacing works, preventing potholes from appearing in the first place.

Responsibility for roads and associated spending is devolved across the UK. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will receive a percentage of funding to fix potholes from a separate pot of money.

'Dodging potholes'

Mr Sunak 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."

Across England 700,000 potholes were reported in the 2018 financial year, according to research by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).

More than £1.9m was paid out in compensation to claimants that had their vehicles damaged that year. The average payout per claim was about £257.

In January, Mike Cherry, the FSB national chairman, said: "Poorly looked-after roads peppered with holes and cracks not only hamper our members' ability to do business, but lead to damaged vehicles, which are often vital assets to small firms."

The government's previous manifesto pledge on additional funding to fill in potholes is part of its promise to "level up" the UK by investing more in regions outside of London.

Local authorities in the North East received the largest number of complaints about potholes in 2018-19, registering more than 100,000. This was followed by Yorkshire and The Humber.

But HM Treasury said that the funding will "particularly benefit" regions which have more streets to look after than others, such as the South West, the East of England, and the North West.

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