AIA annual survey reveals impact of pressures on local roads in England and Wales

March 20, 2024

An independent survey by the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA) – a partnership between the Mineral Products Association and Eurobitume UK – has estimated that a record high of £16.3 billion would be needed to address the backlog of local highways repairs across England and Wales.

Published yesterday, the 2024 Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) survey highlights the connection between local road maintenance funding and conditions in England and Wales.

The survey has found that more than half of local road miles in England and Wales have less than 15 years’ structural life remaining, in an assessment of the state of highways assets that will soon require more repair than just surface maintenance. Surface conditions across the network are also reported to have declined, despite a 40 per cent increase in the number of potholes filled over the last 12 months.

Faced with average budget increases that have fallen well below the rate of inflation, local authorities have effectively experienced real-term cuts in the past year. The survey findings demonstrate that authorities have actually been able to do less with the money available despite funding increases.

Brian Kent, national technical director at Tarmac, said: “This year’s ALARM survey results show that there continues to be significant underfunding for our highways network. Local roads are vital assets across England and Wales, and their socio-economic importance has long been undervalued.

“As the findings show, simply repairing potholes is not enough and we need to prevent failures in our roads at a structural level. Longer-term thinking and budget allocation is needed to make sure that poor road conditions do not continue to impact our communities.

“In times of increasing pressure on local authority budgets, we too often see that highways maintenance projects become the first to lose funding. It unfortunately comes as no surprise therefore that the ALARM survey has highlighted that almost half of local authorities have reported cuts or freezes in the past year.

“Representing over 97% of all roads, our network of local highways is the lifeblood of our economy – all journeys start and end on local roads. Well-maintained, reliable roads are critical assets that contribute greatly to people’s everyday lives, connecting local economies across England and Wales and boosting productivity.”

The AIA’s ALARM survey is widely considered to be the most authoritative and comprehensive study into England and Wales’ local road network. Results from the 29th annual report can be found here: