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One pothole for every mile of road in Great Britain

Press release: 10/10/2013

  • There is now one pothole for every mile of road in Great Britain
  • Councils have paid out a total of £2.5 million in compensation to motorists in the past financial year for pothole damage to cars
  • One in ten (9%) people have suffered car damage as a result of poor road surfaces in the past 12 months

Britain's roads are peppered with almost 200,000 potholes - or one for every mile of road in Great Britain, according to official council data obtained via a freedom of information request by Britannia Rescue [1]. The combination of a harsh winter followed by a dry summer has particularly harmed road surfaces and exacerbated the problem.

UK councils have received 32,600 compensation claims in the past financial year for everything from potholes ruining wheel rims, to puncturing tyres and damaging suspension - an increase of 79% from the previous financial year [2].

Compensation claims for car damage resulting from potholes are costing councils a small fortune. The data shows that local authorities in England, Wales and Scotland paid out a total of £2.5 million [3] in compensation for pothole or other road damage in the past financial year. One of the country's largest local authorities, Lincolnshire County Council, reported pay-outs amounting to more than £358,665 in 2012/13 alone.

Councils say King Lane in Leeds, the B6273 South Moor Road / Moor Lane in Barnsley and Holly Lane in Banstead are some of the worst roads for potholes in the UK.

The problem is that road maintenance in the UK is severely under-funded with around £16 [4] spent per driver on maintaining road surfaces and fixing potholes - less than 10% [5] of the annual road tax bill. Short-term fixes are often chosen over longer term solutions, with close to a quarter (23%) of councils [6] admitting they usually temporarily fix potholes rather than resurface the area. The average cost of repairing a pothole is around £50 [7], meaning the amount paid out by councils in compensation could have been used to repair more than 50,000 potholes.

In the past 12 months, one in ten (9%) people say their car has been damaged as a result of poor road surfaces with the average repair costing £140. The most common problems are tyre damage (43%), damaged suspension (34%) and damaged wheel rims (26%).

Britain's pothole epidemic has resulted from years of underinvestment in our roads and has been exacerbated by recent harsh winters. Local authorities face difficult choices in the roads they prioritise for repair and we now have around 200,000 potholes on UK roads. Motorists should protect themselves and their vehicles by reducing their speed on potholed roads, and also reporting damaged roads to their local council.

Peter Horton, Britannia Rescue Managing Director



How much the council paid
out to drivers in compensation
in 2012/2013*

Number of compensation claims
for damage caused by poor roads
in 2012/2013


Lincolnshire County Council




West Sussex County Council




London Borough of Wandsworth




Surrey County Council




Cumbria County Council




East Sussex County Council




Hertfordshire County Council




Hampshire County Council




Leeds City Council




Warwickshire County Council



*It is worth noting that not all successful compensation claims made in 2012/2013 were paid out in 2012/2013.


Britannia Rescue issued Freedom of Information requests to 434 UK city, district, borough and county councils. Of these 146 responded with at least one piece of data. 289 are either yet to respond, said that they didn't keep the data, or that they were not responsible for road maintenance in their area. The FOI request asked: How much has been spent by your council area on resurfacing and fixing pot-holed roads in 2011/2012 and 2012/2013; How many compensation claims were lodged by drivers as a result of damage to their car due to the poor state of the roads in your council area in 2011/2012 and 2012/2013; How much has your council paid out to drivers in compensation due to the poor state of the roads in 2011/2012 and 2012/2013; The road name which is the worst for pothole damage i.e. it has damaged more cars than any other road in the area; How often the average road is fully resurfaced (in years); How many potholes each council has (on average) at any one time and could your council estimate the average size (width/length/depth) of a pothole in feet.

Additional research conducted among 2,001 GB adults aged 18+ was conducted between 14 and 15 August 2013 by ICM. Surveys were conducted across the country and the results have been weighted to the profile of all adults. ICM is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Further information at

About Britannia Rescue

Britannia Rescue is part of the LV= group of companies. Britannia Rescue‘s network has over 3,000 breakdown professionals nationwide and average response time is 41 minutes.

LV= employs 5700 people and serves over five million customers with a range of financial products. We are the UK's largest friendly society and a leading financial mutual.

When we started in 1843 our goal was to give financial security to more than just a privileged few and for many decades we were most commonly associated with providing a method of saving to people of modest means. Today we follow a similar purpose, helping people to protect and provide for the things they love, although on a much larger scale and through a wide range of financial services including insurance, investment and retirement products.

We offer our services direct to consumers, as well as through IFAs and brokers, and through strategic partnerships with organisations such as ASDA, Nationwide Building Society and a range of trade unions.

Authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. LVFS is a member of the ABI, the AFM and ILAG. Registered address: County Gates, Bournemouth BH1 2NF.

  1. According to ONS, the total road length in Great Britain in 2011 was estimated to be 245,000 miles ( 245,000 divided by 194,643 = one pothole for every 1.25 miles of GB road.
  2. There were 18,283 compensation claims in 2011/2012 and 32,689 claims in 2012/2013, a 79% increase.
  3. Financial year 2012/2013.
  4. Of the councils that responded to the FOI, the total spend on maintaining road surfaces was £605,400,510 in 2012/2013. There are 434 UK councils, therefore £605,400,510 / 434 = an average of £1,394,932 on maintaining road surfaces and fixing potholes per council area. 434 x 1,394,932 divided by 36,700,000 drivers = £16.49 per driver a year.
  5. According to an FOI to the DVLA, road tax raises £6 billion (£6,207,000,000, including licence fees and taxes) annually but only £605,400,510 of this is reinvested in maintaining road surfaces and fixing damaged roads (potholes). This equates to 9.7%.
  6. 23% of councils say they always temporarily fix potholes, the remaining amount will either permanently fix or do a combination of temporary and permanent fixing
  7. The cost of repairing a single pothole costs in the region of £50 to repair

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