Rishi Sunak has pledged to tackle “the scourge of potholes” with £8.3 billion of funding for local roads maintenance in England.
The Prime Minister described the investment, which will be made available to local authorities over 11 years, as “unprecedented”.
The funding is part of the Government’s Network North plan published in October to spend money saved by scrapping HS2 north of Birmingham.
AA figures show call-outs to pothole-related breakdowns are at near-record levels.
The organisation has received more than 450,000 so far this year.
The £8.3 billion will be allocated in this way:
– £3.3 billion in the North West, North East and Yorkshire and Humber.
– £2.2 billion in the West Midlands and East Midlands.
– £2.8 billion in the East of England, South East and South West, and London.
The Department for Transport said £5.5 billion of funding for local roads maintenance between 2020 and 2025 was announced before the Network North plan, which is in addition to that.
Mr Sunak said: “For too long politicians have shied away from taking the right long-term decisions to make life easier for hardworking families – tackling the scourge of potholes being a prime example.
“Well-maintained road surfaces could save drivers up to £440 each in expensive vehicle repairs, helping motorists keep more of the cash in their pocket.
“This unprecedented £8.3 billion investment will pave the road for better and safer journeys for millions of people across the country and put an end to the blight of nuisance potholes.”
On a visit to a project tackling potholes in West Horsley, Surrey, Transport Secretary Mark Harper said drivers will “see improvement straightaway” in road conditions.
He told the PA news agency: “That money is enough to resurface over 5,000 miles of roads, so people will see a step change in the quality of local roads.
“For drivers, for cyclists, for bus users – anyone who uses the roads – this is a real improvement.”
Mr Harper said it is up to local authorities how to spend maintenance funding, but part of the reason for the “significant increase” is so they can “improve the quality of road surfaces in the future” rather than just focus on fixing existing potholes.
The Cabinet minister said reducing the number of potholes is “a top priority for drivers and road users”.
Some 49% of respondents to an RAC survey of more than 2,500 drivers in March said the condition of local roads was their biggest motoring concern, putting it ahead of all other issues.
Garage repair data analysed by the RAC shows drivers are paying an average of £440 if their car needs fixing after hitting a pothole for any damage more serious than a puncture.
Common vehicle problems caused by potholes include damaged shock absorbers, broken suspension springs and distorted wheels.
The cost of bringing pothole-plagued local roads in England and Wales up to scratch has been estimated at £14 billion.
RAC head of policy Simon Williams said: “We hope local authorities will use the money in the most effective way possible by resurfacing the very worst roads, keeping those in reasonable condition in better states for longer through surface dressing, and filling potholes as permanently as possible wherever necessary.
“This should in time go a considerable way to bringing our roads back to a fit-for-purpose state and saving drivers hundreds of pounds in the process from not having to fork out for frustrating repairs to their vehicles.”
AA president Edmund King said: “The £8.3 billion plan can make a considerable difference in bringing our roads back to the standards which road users expect, especially if councils use the cash efficiently to resurface our streets.
“As well as safer roads, eliminating potholes gives confidence to people wanting to cycle, and instils pride of place within local communities.”
Darren Rodwell, transport spokesman for the Local Government Association, said: “Councils want to invest in cost-effective and resilient resurfacing, rather than retrospectively dealing with potholes, and this funding is a significant boost towards improving more of the 186,000 miles of England’s local roads.
“We await to see the final details of the full allocation.”
He added that it is “vital” the plan is “locked in” by Chancellor Jeremy Hunt in next week’s autumn statement.
Published: by Radio NewsHub