A fifth of English and Welsh roads won't last longer than five years

Almost 40,000 miles of roads will need sigificant structural repairs if they're to remain usable beyond the next five years, a new report suggests...


Nearly a fifth of the roads controlled by local councils in England and Wales have a life expectancy of less than five years, according to a new report by the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA).

As many as 36,918 miles of road across the two countries – 18% of the total local authority network – were said to be in ‘poor’ condition, which means that they will need to be torn up and structurally repaired, rather than just resurfaced.

A much larger proportion, 31%, were classed as ‘adequate’. This category is made up of roads that are expected to last for between five and 15 years before they’ll need structural repairs.

The remaining roads (51%) were rated as ‘good’, meaning they still have at least 15 years of life left and can be maintained with just minor repairs. Around 8000 miles of road (4% of the total network) had crossed from being ‘good’ to being ‘adequate’ in the past year.

Potholes cost 1 million every day

As well as considering the underlying structure, the report also considers the condition of road surfaces; it states that 1.4 million potholes were filled this year, 16% fewer than in each of the previous two years.

However, the average cost of repairing each pothole has increased. The AIA estimates that £93.7m was spent on pothole repairs in 2022, – 13% less than the £107.4m estimate for the previous year.

Local councils are responsible for the maintenance of their roads, but these repairs are partly funded by the Government, as well as by the councils themselves.

A spokesperson for the Local Government Association (LGA), which represents local authorities across England, said that an increase in the Government’s contribution would “help councils focus on long-term investment in existing roads, delivering preventative maintenance and reducing the occurrence of potholes in the first place”.


In the Spring Budget, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced a £200m scheme to help local authorities fund pothole repairs. This will boost the amount of money local councils are given to resurface and repair any roads for which they are responsible.

In April 2022, a What Car? investigation found that Councils and road authorities across Britain paid more than £12 million in compensation between 2018 and 2021 for damage caused by poor road surfaces and potholes.

The average cost of each successful claim was £347, significantly higher than the £66.54 the AIA estimates a pothole repair costs on average.

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Read more: How to report a pothole and claim for pothole damage >>