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News & Press: Industry News

ALARM survey indicates £2.5 billion pothole pledge not enough to plug gap in road local maintenance

24 March 2020  

Now in its 25th year, the Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) survey provides detailed insight into the funding and conditions of our vital local road network and its findings are used by stakeholders across the sector for benchmarking and planning purposes.

The findings of this year’s Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) survey indicate that, while a step in the right direction, the Chancellor’s additional £2.5 billion pothole pledge is not enough to plug the gap in local road maintenance budgets, let alone the rising backlog of repairs.

ALARM 2020 highlights:

  • Improving road conditions reported in ALARM 2019 have NOT been sustained with average highway maintenance budgets down by 16% to £20.7 million per authority
  • The Government’s £2.5 billion pothole pledge over 5 years is a fraction of the estimated £11.14 billion over 11 years needed to bring local roads up to a level from which they can be maintained cost effectively going forward
  • English and Welsh local authorities are reporting a shortfall in carriageway maintenance funding of £826.6 million a year – equivalent to £4.9 million per authority – up 8% on last year
  • The number of potholes filled in the last year is almost £1.5 million – equating to one being filled every 21 seconds
  • Structural road conditions are getting worse with 7,240 fewer miles of roads in GOOD structural condition and 1,100 more miles of roads with less than 5 years of life remaining than last year.

Steve Spender, IHE Chief Executive, commented:

“The IHE continues to support the AIA, who through the publication of the ALARM survey over the last 25 years has provided a good annual barometer of the true condition of our local highway networks. Once again, this year’s report provides a clear indication that there is a need for an increase in real terms of the funding necessary to bring the network back to a suitable standard.

“With average highway maintenance budgets down by approximately 16%, and the estimated cost for getting our roads back to reasonable state of over £11bn, this can only create a situation where reactive repairs are the chosen option rather than the necessary proactive planned approach. Whist welcoming the recent budget announcement of an additional £2.5bn over the next 5 years this only equates to £500m across the English authorities which falls well short of what in real terms is required to protect our networks for the future. The financial pressure on local authorities continues to be a challenge particularly following the effects of the recent severe weather and damage caused by the extensive flooding which will result in an inevitable increase in the pressure on already stretched highway budgets.”

You can access ALARM reports at and other stats can be found at

You can read the full press release here which includes key findings on the report as well as comments from industry bodies: Cycling UK, RAC, Local Government Association, AA, British Cycling and the Institute of Highways Engineers.

Floor 4, Euston House
24 Eversholt Street
Tel: 020 3874 3066

The Institute of Highway Engineers is a company registered in England and Wales with company number 1064239
VAT Registration No: 303 7735 15