Government announces crackdown on companies causing potholes

A new inspection regime for utility companies could prevent firms from leaving behind thousands of potholes each year...


Drivers could save hundreds of pounds on repair costs thanks to new government proposals designed to punish companies that leave potholes behind after doing road works.

The proposals include changes to the inspection regime for companies that perform road works – such as broadband operators – with those that have historically performed worst facing the most frequent examinations. 

On average, utility companies fail 9% of current inspections, but the worst-performing firm fell below standards on 63% of occasions.

Those that repeatedly fail to resurface potholes or other damage caused by their work will face as-yet undetermined financial penalties.

Roadworks sign

Firms and local authorities operating roadworks will also be required to provide up-to-date information about interruptions to the Department for Transport’s Street Manager Service. This service feeds back to sat-nav systems and apps, and the change should mean that drivers are better informed of any disruption caused by work.

The RAC’s head of roads policy, Nicholas Lyes, said the scheme should “force utilities companies to raise their game and should ultimately lead to smoother and safer journeys for all road users”.

The latest ALARM report by the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA) showed that local authorities in England and Wales face a nine-year backlog of road repairs that is estimated to cost £12.6 billion.

pothole in road

A recent investigation by What Car? found that councils and road authorities paid out more than £12 million in compensation to motorists between 2018 and 2021 for damage caused by poor road surfaces and potholes.

More than 145,000 compensation claims were logged during that period, of which 37,366 (25.7%) were successful. Successful claimants were paid an average sum of £347 – £300 more than it is estimated to cost to fill a pothole.

Highways England – which manages 4300 miles of the motorway, A-road and dual-carriageway network – was found to have paid the most to drivers, with compensation totalling £865,264.

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