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13.10.16

Councils see pothole compensation claims increase by 9% in past year

Motorists made at least 31,483 claims against local councils for compensation after their vehicles were damaged by poorly maintained roads in 2015-16, new research from the RAC Foundation shows.

This is the equivalent of one claim being made every 17 minutes, but councils only paid the compensation in 27% of cases, with the total cost of claims reaching £1.8m.

In addition, the number of claims increased by 9% from the previous year, but the value of compensation paid decreased by 11%. The average value of a claim was £432, but the average successful claim was worth £306.

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “These figures are symptomatic of the inadequate funding available for local road maintenance.”

Gooding called on the government to provide adequate funding to maintain local roads, saying it would be “a great place to start” for the government’s promise of more investment in infrastructure.

A recent AA survey found that 39% of members had suffered damage caused by potholes in the past year.

In April, the government announced a £250m Pothole Repair Fund, but the LGA said it would need to be 230 times larger to address the road repairs backlog.

Cllr Martin Tett, the LGA’s transport spokesperson, said: “Councils are right to pay out if people have genuine claims. However, they will continue to crack down on spurious claims to protect the public purse and use this money to fix roads.”

He called on the government to use the Autumn Statement to put local road funding on the same footing as main roads, and devolve fuel duty to councils to allow them to fund road maintenance.

In England, the council with the highest number of claims made against it was Hampshire, with 1,952 claims, of which 32% were successful. In Scotland, Glasgow City Council received 794 claims but paid out just 9%, and in Wales, Cardiff Council received 237 claims and paid out 50%.

(Image c. Danny Lawson from PA Wire)

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