Councils vow crackdown after £8m pothole payouts


Council chiefs have vowed to crackdown on spurious pothole compensation claims after paying out £8m in two years.  

The Local Government Association (LGA) has said councils are determined to tackle false claims after the new figures for compensation payouts for 2013-2015 were released by the TaxPayers' Alliance.

It follows the RAC reporting that it has seen a 24% annual increase from 2014 to 2015 in call-outs to vehicles that it believes have suffered damage from poor road surfaces.

Research by the TaxPayers’ Alliance found that local authorities paid out a total of £100m in compensation over 2013-2014 and 2014-2015, with £8m going on road-surface related claims.

It said that this indicated that some local authorities are failing to adequately deliver services such as repairing potholes.

Chief executive, Jonathan Isaby, said: ‘The compensation culture is costing taxpayers dear and every pound spent on settlements or higher insurance premiums is a pound that isn't spent on essential services such as road maintenance or social care.’

Responding to the research an LGA spokesman said: ‘Councils are determined to crack down on spurious cases which are a waste of the public purse and threaten councils' ability to protect the services people value the most.

‘Councils strive to provide value for money for the taxpayer against a backdrop of rising funding pressures. Local authorities are still committed to fixing potholes.’

Data released by the RAC last week revealed that its patrols responded to 5,010 more incidents involving broken shock absorbers, ruined suspension parts and distorted or damaged wheels in 2015 than they did during the previous year, ‘potentially indicating that poor road surfaces were to blame’.

David Bizley, the RAC’s chief engineer, said that despite chancellor George Osborne’s announcement of additional funds in the autumn statement, the money available to councils is ‘still not enough’ to tackle the road maintenance and repair backlog.

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