Potholes can be immensely dangerous
His promise follows official figures showing highway rescue patrols and vehicle repair firms currently attend breakdowns caused by fractured tarmac roughly once an hour across the UK. The fund will be among a series of financial measures to modernise the UK’s transport network to boost economic growth across the country.
Mr Sunak will also announce a wide-ranging package of support to help businesses through the coronavirus outbreak and ensure the NHS has all the resources necessary to care for victims.
The Chancellor wants his set-piece financial statement to demonstrate that the Government is ready to meet the challenge presented by the global epidemic while laying the long-term foundations for a decade of growth.
Ahead of his first Budget, Mr Sunak said: “We can’t level up Britain and spread opportunity if we are spending our journeys dodging potholes and forking out for the damage they cause.
“It’s vital we keep roads in good condition. That’s why we are going to eradicate the scourge of potholes in every part of the country.
“This funding will fill millions of potholes every year, speeding up journeys, reducing vehicle damage and making our roads safer.”
Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Steve Barclay
London is the city most affected by potholes
Around half a billion pounds from the pothole fund will be spent this year on improving roads around the country most in need of repair.
The investment will particularly benefit the South West, the East of England and the North West.
Treasury officials say the move is part of a Government infrastructure revolution planned to ensure every region of the UK has transport links to boost economic growth.
They claim the fund will help speed up journeys, reduce damage to cars and decrease accident rates for drivers and cyclists.
Official figures show nine out of ten insurance claims are related to pothole damage, with repairs costing an average of £230.
Funding will also be available for local authorities to undertake longer-term road resurfacing works to prevent potholes from appearing in the first place.
The crackdown on potholes follows an extra £5billion for bus services and cycling announced by the Government earlier this year.
Motorists could be forced to contend with more than 650,000 potholes across the country by 2030
Ministers have also given the go-ahead of the HS2 high-speed rail line linking London with the Midland and the North of England and pledged to reverse the historic cuts to the rail network made in the 1960s.
A recent report warned that motorists could be forced to contend with more than 650,000 potholes across the country by 2030 unless widespread repairs were carried out.
The study by the Centre for Economics and Business Research and Zurich UK predicted that Britain will see a 16 percent increase in fractured tarmac in the next 10 years if the Government fails to invest a promised £500million per year.
At the last general election, the Tory manifesto promised “the biggest ever pothole-filling programme” the UK has ever seen.
This is all some councils will do with the scourge of potholes
Data from freedom of information requests to local authorities suggests that the issue of potholes is most severe in the South East and Scotland.
More than 81,000 potholes were reported in the South East in 2019, while 74,000 were reported in Scotland.
The study predicts that in a decade there will be 100,000 potholes in the South East, with London the city most affected. The capital is expected to contain more than 23,000 potholes by 2030, with Newcastle predicted to become the second most afflicted city, with 22,000.
And a poll earlier this year showed that six out of drivers want the new Chancellor to find cash for fixing potholed roads.
An RAC poll found 59 percent of voters quizzed wanted Mr Sunak to ringfence 2p of tax on every litre of fuel for highway repairs in his Budget.
The Chancellor is expected to loosen his spending rules to give more flexibility to tackle the epidemic and support the economy.
His key themes in the Budget will be delivering the Tory manifesto promises, providing security for the economy and laying the foundations for growth with a massive investment in the transport network and other major infrastructure projects.
Key measures are expected to include a £1billion deal with the mobile phone industry to improve patchy network coverage and a £5billion roll out of the next generation of broadband for rural areas.
Britain will see a 16 percent increase in fractured tarmac in the next 10 years
Treasury rules will also be re-written to allow spending on infrastructure projects outside of London that would have previously been ruled uneconomic.
Mr Sunak is expected to announce a tax cut through a rise in the threshold for National Insurance contributions.
He is also understood to be poised to cancel a planned cut in corporation tax from 19 percent to 17 percent to save the Treasury around £6billion a year.
Tory MPs are braced for the Chancellor to end the freeze in fuel duty that has been in force since 2010.
David Renard, the Local Government Association’s transport spokesman, said: “We are pleased the Chancellor has listened to and acted on our calls for significantly more funding to fill and repair potholes.
“Fixing our roads is a top priority for councils, who fix a pothole every 17 seconds.
“We look forward to seeing the details of how this money will be allocated between councils. Extra funding will help councils to do more to maintain our roads, and will go a long way to help to tackle our local road repairs backlog.
“To help councils go further to maintain our roads, they need devolved infrastructure and public transport budgets – ensuring a funding allocation in advance for five years, which would enable them to deliver infrastructure improvements that allow people to move around in less carbon intensive and more sustainable ways.”
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said: “This rehash of Theresa May’s pothole fund is another policy announcement that shows the Tories trying to patch up problems they have created without getting a grip on the underlying state of infrastructure in this country.
“The Tories have created a £192 billion infrastructure investment hole over the last decade, and throughout that time they have failed to adopt a strategy for investment in the long-term.
“In this week’s Budget, the Tories are repeating their mistake of the last ten years, shelving the National Infrastructure Strategy in place of a gimmicky grab-bag of projects, which is likely only to leave the public let down and disappointed.”