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LGA - Spend rising fuel and motoring tax income on improving local roads - councils urge government

Council leaders are calling for the Government to carry out a radical new strategy to provide a fully-funded plan for the growing number of vehicles on the nation’s roads – which has risen by 30 per cent since 2000.

Nearly eight-and-a-half million more vehicles are now on the road, adding to congestion and road maintenance issues, such as potholes, wear-down of road markings, and increasing general wear and tear. 

New LGA analysis shows that if the Government matched the increase in fuel and motoring tax income generated in the last 10 years town halls would have an extra £418 million to spend on local roads.

This would help them reduce congestion, improve air quality, contribute towards tackling the country’s £12 billion road repairs backlog and encourage residents to use alternative transport where possible.

The call comes as the LGA today sets out the impact of the nation’s “congestion crunch” on local roads:

  • Road space is limited. There are now 151 vehicles per mile on our roads compared to just 119 vehicles per mile in 2000, ratcheting up the pressure on local roads.
  • Travel speeds are down. The average travel speed on local ‘A’ roads is just 25 miles per hour, a 1 per cent decrease from a year ago.
  • The maintenance and repair of roads is another serious challenge facing councils. Councils fill a pothole every 19 seconds and are dealing with a £12 billion backlog of road repairs that would take a decade to clear.

The Government’s recent decision to share a proportion of the Roads Fund, to support local roads, has long been called for by the LGA. However, in order to make sure our roads are equipped to handle the increase in vehicles and forecast increase in traffic by up to 55 per cent by 2040, the Government needs to be more ambitious to support councils to keep traffic moving.

Ahead of the Autumn Budget next month, the LGA is also calling for the Government to fully fund the statutory concessionary bus fares scheme. Years of underfunding mean councils are being forced to subsidise the scheme by at least £200 million a year.

Mileage on council supported bus services decreased by 12 per cent between 2014/15 and 2015/16.

To reverse this sharp decline, LGA said councils also need to be given control over the Bus Service Operators’ Grant. This fuel duty rebate, currently paid directly to bus operators, would enable councils to protect vital bus routes, and give them the funding they need to provide an efficient and successful bus service.

Cllr Martin Tett, LGA Transport spokesman, said:

“The vast majority of journeys start or end on a local road – the impact of almost 30 per cent more vehicles cannot be over-stated. Congestion, wear and tear of our roads, and air quality are all affected.

“With eight-and-a-half million more vehicles on our roads since 2000, it’s no wonder our local roads are facing a growing congestion crunch and it would now take £12 billion and a decade to clear the nation’s road repair backlog.

“Councils are doing all they can to provide their communities with the transport services they need, to manage and ensure that roads are free-flowing as possible.

“The Government needs to develop a fully funded plan to help councils deliver the desperately-needed local road improvements we need. This should include matching the extra growth in tax take with the funding it provides councils.

“This would see councils given an extra £400 million a year to spend on filling potholes, easing congestion and protect vital bus routes. Only with long-term funding can councils deliver roads truly fit for the 21st Century.”

Notes to editors

  1. In 2000, there were 28.9 million licensed vehicles in Great Britain, compared to 37.3 million in 2017, a rise of 8.4 million (29 per cent), which includes an extra 6.9 million cars, according to government data on vehicle registration.
  2. A breakdown of travel time speeds by local authority, provided by DfT statistics, is available here.
  3. See the below table for information on road length, and the number of cars on the road, sourced from the respective government data series.


Road length (miles)     

Number of Vehicles

Ratio (vehicles per mile of road)    

2000 (4th quarter)     




2016 (4th quarter)





Increase since turn of the century



  1. A recent report published by the LGA – ‘A country in a jam: tackling congestion in our towns and cities’ - reveals the extent of the country’s congestion crisis.
  2. The LGA’s Autumn Budget submission includes proposals for how the Government can fund local roads and improve transport across the country.

LGA methodology

Total spending on UK local roads increased from £4.936 billion in 2005/06 to £5.475 billion in 2015/16, according to Public Expenditure Spending Analysis.

Total receipts from Vehicle Excise Duty and Fuel Excise has increased from £28,108 in 2005/06 to £33,553 in 2015/16 – a rise of 19.4 per cent.

If spending on local roads was kept up in line with income generated by fuel taxes and VED then there could be an additional £418 million a year (£4.936 billion x 19.4 per cent = £5.89 billion minus £5.475 billion) available to spend on local roads.

Original article link: https://www.local.gov.uk/about/news/spend-rising-fuel-and-motoring-tax-income-improving-local-roads-councils-urge-government

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