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Local authority managed roads make up 98% of road length and carried 66% of motor traffic vehicle miles in 2022.

Funding for the maintenance of local roads is provided by the Department for Transport (DfT) and the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) to local highways authorities, who are responsible for maintaining their road networks to an adequate standard.

In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland the responsibility for maintaining the roads is with the respective devolved administrations. In London, councils receive transport funding from Transport for London. This briefing paper focuses on England, excluding London.

Who is responsible for local road maintenance?

National Highways maintain the Strategic Roads Network in England (made up of trunk motorways and A roads). All other road types are managed by 153 local highway authorities.

Diagram showing responsibility for road funding

What condition are roads in?

There are ongoing concerns about the conditions of the local road network, the backlog of repairs and the cost of bringing these defects up to standard.

In 2023, an annual industry report estimated that 18% of the local road network in England (excluding London) is in poor condition. It predicted that the one-time catch-up cost to clear the backlog of maintenance issues would cost £12.1 billion and take 11 years to complete.

The Department for Transport reported that in 2023 4% of local A roads should have been considered for maintenance but hadn’t been, compared to 6% of B and C roads and 17% of unclassified roads.

Where does road funding come from?

Local road maintenance expenditure can be classified as ‘capital’ or ‘revenue’:

  • Capital maintenance expenditure is primarily for the structural renewal of highway assets (including roads, footways, bridges, drainage and lighting); essentially extending the life of the asset. This is funded by the Department for Transport (DfT).
  • Revenue maintenance expenditure mainly covers the routine works required to keep the highway serviceable and reactive measures to rectify defects. It also includes the cost of providing street lighting, footway repair and cyclical maintenance such as cleaning activities (of assets such as the drainage system), grass cutting and vital services such as snow and ice clearance, and salt spreading. This is funded by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) through the revenue support grant.

Capital expenditure and funding

Capital funding from central government for highways maintenance are generally comprised of four streams:

  • Highways Maintenance Block (HMB) – needs element
  • Highways Maintenance Block (HMB) – incentive element
  • Integrated Transport Block (ITB)
  • Potholes funding

More recently, additional funding has been allocated through Network North, the 2023 Budget and other schemes.

How much capital funding is allocated?

The table below shows the amount of local highways maintenance funding in England from 2020/21 onwards.

Table of capital local road maintenance funding

Notes: 1) Funding for potholes in 2020/21 includes the £500 million Pothole Fund for 2020/21, the £100 million Challenge Fund for 2020/21, and the £50 million Pothole Action Fund allocation for 2020/21, totalling £650 million. 2) The ITB total for 2020/21 was calculated by adding up each of the region totals. These regional totals may have been rounded. 3) The Network North total for England (excluding London) has been calculated by taking the funding assigned to London in 2023/24 and 2024/25 (£7.531 million) away from the England total for these years (£150 million).

Source: Department for Transport, Highways maintenance funding allocations, 20 December 2023

For the 11 years between 2023/24 to 2033/34, an additional £8.3 billion has been allocated to highways maintenance as part of the Network North plan in England (including London). For the 7 years between 2025/26 to 2031/32, £4.7 billion has been allocated to the Local Transport Fund (LTF) for the North and Midlands as part of the Network NOrth plan. The LTF can be used to fund a wide range of local transport measures, not only filling potholes and road maintenance.

Revenue expenditure and funding

In 2022/23, local authority road maintenance expenditure was £4.5 billion. Of this, £2.7 billion was spent on structural treatment, £1.3 billion on routine and other treatment and £0.5 billion was spent on highways maintenance policy, planning and strategy.

Where to find local authority funding allocations?

Capital expenditure

Revenue expenditure

The Local Transport Fund (LTF) can be used fund a wide range of transport projects, not only filling potholes and road maintenance.

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