Local authorities in battle for roads cash

Councils fighting for local roads funding will be allocated funds based on performance, under a pilot scheme launched by the Department for Transport (DfT).

Roads Minister Andrew Jones (pictured) revealed details of the scheme at The Future Highways conference in London yesterday (11 June).

He said: “I have been deluged with requests from fellow MPs asking for me to help fix potholes in their constituencies.

“We have moved on from an approach in which money is handed out purely on the basis of where the need is greatest.

“Frankly, sometimes the need is greatest because a local authority has not used the funds it has received as efficiently as it could. We have learnt that if you hand out money while ignoring why local roads are in a bad state, you create a system of perverse incentives, and unintended consequences.

“A system in which even local authorities that have kept their roads in top condition have an incentive to let standards slip so as to win more money.

And local authorities near the bottom of the rankings have an incentive to perform even more badly. The risk is that the more public money the government hands out, the less efficient local authorities become at mending the roads. It’s a system crying out for reform.”

By the financial year 2018/19, over a quarter of funding will be allocated on the basis of either competition or performance.

Local authorities will have to meet a set of criteria which can be found here.

The DfT will then release a final version of the questionnaire in the autumn, with the deadline for completion likely to be the end of November, ready for money to be distributed for the 2016/17 financial year.

Jones added: “The government is providing the funding. It’s a mark of confidence in the highways maintenance sector.

“We know that given a chance to deliver, you will do so – through efficiency, collaboration, and the sheer determination that the industry is famed for.”

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