Pothole damage claims cost taxpayers millions in 2020

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COUNCILS in England forked out more than £8m of taxpayers’ funds last year to settle damage claims caused by potholes.

A Freedom of Information request by online car marketplace heycar found that significant sums of taxpayer funds are being spent on the UK’s pothole crisis, as councils take huge financial hits for failing to fill in potholes that cause injury or damage to road users.

Fixing a pothole is a relatively cheap process, costing an average of £70 a time in England, however this varies drastically as you travel up and down the country. 

pothole - Research News Scotland
Photo by Marc-Olivier Jodoin on Unsplash. The biggest single claim resulted in a payout of almost a quarter of a million pounds.

Of the ten councils reporting the lowest average pothole repair cost, eight could be found in the north of the country, including Oldham, Rotherham and Kirklees, with an average pothole repair of £27 compared to a whopping £232 reported by their southern counterparts.

Eight of the top ten most expensive councils were found south of the M25, with the bulk of the list formed of London Boroughs including Enfield, Hillingdon and Chelsea.

Despite filling 1.2 million potholes last year, at an average of more than 20,000 every week, there are still more than 100,000 recorded potholes in our roads at any one time.

Potholes - Research News Scotland
Photo by Liam Riby on Unsplash. Claims in Derby, Cheshire and Greenwich all paid out over £3,000 each time in damages to cars that have fallen foul of potholes.

It means that as fast as council contractors fill the potholes, more are created that add to the workload, sparking huge compensation claims where people are injured and their vehicles damaged.

In Brent, London, there was a £20,500 payout to a motorcyclist who came off their bike after going over a pothole, while a single incident in Stoke led to a £63,000 compensation claim.

Many motorists claim that the nation’s roads have never been in such a poor condition with councils unable to find the necessary cash to fix the problem – a situation made worse by the pandemic.

cars - Research News Scotland
Photo by Grahame Jenkins on Unsplash. Some of the individual claims cause the most concern where a single incident involving a pothole can lead to a huge payout.

Dan Powell, Senior Editor at heycar, said: “Potholes are such a familiar sight, and I’m sure everyone will have a top ‘worst road’ in their area that comes to mind when potholes are mentioned – but they’re much more than just an inconvenience.

“They’re causing real damage to people and their vehicles and the rate at which potholes are appearing is too fast for councils to keep up with.

“So even more claims will be coming, further reducing the funds available for road repairs.

“Driving should be a feelgood experience, especially after the restrictions of the past year.

“However, poorly maintained roads only lead to concern and frustration.

“The pothole crisis only appears to be getting worse, and more funds need to be allocated to help councils fill them quicker.”