The Government has released the final self-assessment process for the £578m highways incentive fund, to reward councils demonstrating best practice in maintenance.
Significant amounts of money could be lost by under-performing councils between now and 2020-21 through the self-assessment process, however local authorities are not in competition with each other; unallocated cash from lower band councils is redistributed based on the traditional needs formula.
Local highway authorities in England, outside London, must return the completed questionnaire to the Department for Transport by 31 January 2016, to receive funding for 2016 to 2017.
Baseline scores for each Band:
- Bottom Band 1 – does not reach Level 2 or Level 3 in at least 15 of the 22 questions.
- Medium Band 2 – must reach Level 2 or Level 3 in at least 15 of the 22 questions.
- Top Band 3 – must reach Level 3 in at least 18 of the 22 questions.
The Government has also launched a Highways Maintenance Appraisal Tool (HMAT), described as a ‘potentially significant step towards better understanding the full benefits of highways maintenance’.
Department for Transport (DfT) officials have encouraged local highways authorities to start using HMAT, which outlines the financial benefits of highways asset management investment, and called for feedback on the new model.
Developed in conjunction with the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) this ‘spreadsheet based model allows local highway authorities to assess the economic cost and benefits of their proposed asset management strategies and compare between different options’, DfT officials said.
DfT official state HMAT suggests that: ‘Compared with continued use of the current budget, a scenario of a temporarily increased budget provides a benefit in terms of reduced user costs of £2.70 (discounted) for each extra £1 spent on direct works costs. Reducing the budget for 5 years, resulted in a reduction in benefits of £2.90 for every £1 saved in direct costs.’
The model is designed in accordance with the latest DfT Transport Appraisal guidance (WebTAG) and built around the HMEP's lifecycle planning toolkit. It can be downloaded from the Department for Transport website.