The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Better Roads

Highways Funding

Types of funding

Highway maintenance funding can be allocated from capital or revenue sources. Capital is primarily for improvements, such as new roads, or redesign such as additional lanes, new traffic information and control systems or structural renewal. Maintenance expenditure, mainly funded by revenue, covers repair of worn or damaged roads and facilities and can include both short-term patching or a permanent replacement. In addition to maintenance of the road surface itself, the maintenance budget also includes the cost of lighting, footway repair and cyclical maintenance such as cleaning and grass cutting.

Planned, preventative maintenance, which involves resurfacing at regular intervals, is the most cost effective method of keeping the road surface in good repair. The experience of the highway maintenance industry is that it is at least 20 times more expensive to continuously patch and mend than it is to undertake long lasting repairs. Ensuring that the highway network is durable, safe and fit for purpose is vital to avoid unnecessary traffic congestion and delays, and to make best use of existing assets.

Sources of funding

The main sources of funding are central government and local government.

Local roads make up 97.5 per cent of the country’s roads and their maintenance is the responsibility of local authorities. In England, council’s funding for maintenance comes from a range of sources, including the Department for Transport (DfT), the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (previously known as the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government), Environment Agency grants and regional growth funding, as well as local authorities’ own sources.

Click here for more information about funding allocations for local highways maintenance.

The Strategic Road Network (SRN), which includes motorways and major trunk routes is the responsibility of the National Highways, with funding from central government. More information is available here.

Additional information about funding can also be found at RoadFile.