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Councils refuse most pothole damage compensation claims

Drivers have successfully claimed more than £3m in compensation for pothole damage across the UK in the last year, with the number of applications to highways authorities up 5%.

But an FoI investigation by the RAC Foundation found that councils refused most claims, agreeing to pay out in less than a quarter (23%) of cases.

Of the 207 councils approached, 200 responded, with 146 out of 153 responding in England, all 32 in Scotland replying as did the 22 in Wales.

Most of the English claims made in Surrey, Essex and Kent. The average payout for a successful claim in 2013-14 was £286, down from £357 the year before.

Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, said the figures were likely to be the “tip of the iceberg”, adding that many drivers will be put off by the time involved in claiming against a council.

The average administration cost of each claim, whether successful or not, was £147, according to the research.

“The fundamental problem lies not at the doors of our town halls but with central government,” said Prof Glaister. “Despite occasional one-off grants related to periods of harsh weather, they are simply not giving councils enough money to keep their road networks up to scratch.

“In England, local authorities themselves estimate the maintenance backlog to be about £12bn, yet over the past five years spending on roads in real terms has dropped 22% across England and Wales.”

But a Department for Transport spokeswoman said local roads are vital for the country’s transport network and it is for local councils to maintain them properly, saying“this government has provided over £4.7bn since 2010, an increase of £1bn compared to the previous parliament”.

She added that a further £6bn will be spent between 2015 to 2021 providing councils with “the certainty they require to plan how they will keep their roads well-maintained”.

(Image source: Danny Lawson/PA Wire)

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