Nearly one-third of highway authorities do not accurately know the condition of their road networks, a parliamentary inquiry has found.
The public accounts committee said in a report Maintaining Strategic Infrastructure: Roads that 45 of England’s 150 top-tier councils lacked a complete asset management plan setting out the state of their roads and planned maintenance needs.
Councils are responsible for all roads in England except motorways and trunk routes, which are maintained by the Highways Agency.
The report said the Department for Transport should allocate funding “to incentivise efficiency and collaboration and it should not fund poor performance”.
Help from the DfT Highways Maintenance Efficiency Programme – which encourages local highway authorities to become more cost-effective – should be targeted at those identified as struggling to carry out maintenance efficiently, the report said.
Committee chair Margaret Hodge said in a statement: “The department’s piecemeal and stop-go approach to funding for road maintenance in recent decades has made it difficult for highways authorities to maintain roads cost-effectively.
“There has been too much reactive work in response to flooding and other events and not enough focus on preventative work that is less expensive in the long term.”
A statement from Peter Box (Lab), the LGA’s transport spokesman, said: “Councils need increased and consistent funding to invest in the widespread resurfacing projects which our network desperately needs if we’re to see a long-term improvement.
Cllr Box said £12bn was needed over a decade to bring roads up to an acceptable condition, given that government forecasts pointed to a 40% increase in local traffic by 2040.