Crumbling Roads

2p a litre from fuel tax windfall would fill UK potholes in 100 days

fuel tax windfall could help fund repair of Britain's crumbling roads

26 January 2010

Diverting nearly 2p a litre from the fuel tax windfall generated by soaring pump prices would fund filling the UK's potholes in 100 days, says the AA.

With the average price of petrol riding above 112p a litre, the additional cost compared to a more typical £1 a litre for this time of year is generating a VAT windfall of 1.8p a litre1. In petrol sales alone, the UK consumes 61.38 million litres a day, or £1.1 million in extra VAT revenue each day.

£140 million repair costs

The estimated two million potholes, costing £70 each to repair, leave a £140 million hole in council budgets that could be filled in three to four months, the AA argues.


Edmund King, AA president, said: "If nearly 2p a litre from fuel tax was diverted into a pothole fund, for once, UK drivers would be seeing their fuel tax disappearing into a black hole they can understand.

"Potholes affect all road users from cyclists to bus passengers. They are a particular menace at night on dark rural roads as often the driver is unaware of the pothole until the damage is done. The AA is building up a picture of the nationwide pothole plague via drivers' reports on AA Pothole Watch which we will share with the highway authorities."

Emergency road maintenance funding is required to stop crumbling roads costing more in compensation and accidents, the AA argues.

To prove the point, an online nationwide AA Pothole Watch has been set up for drivers to download photos and describe the pothole menace along the roads they use.

Last February's heavy snow pushed up insurance claims for pothole damage by more than 250%. If the roads are not repaired then drivers, cyclists and motor bike riders will be at risk from expensive damage and injuries. Insurance companies will be hit and more claims and potential injuries will add to NHS costs. Cash-strapped councils could well face a deluge of claims from road users and the risk of paying out more in compensation than on road repairs themselves.

Worst areas

The AA argues that the worst areas for potholes are:

  • stretches of road where potholes have been poorly repaired in the past
  • stretches of road where utility reinstatements have been poor
  • stretches of road that have not been salted as salt tends to melt the snow before it turns to ice
  • stretches of road hit by consistent sub-zero temperatures

AA driving instructors are also reporting problems with potholes. An instructor from Guildford described the local roads as 'a nightmare' which make you 'shake like a bag of bones'. He also said that potholes were a real challenge for learner drivers.

Join the discussion in the AA zone


1 Over the past three years, the cost of petrol January to April has averaged 95.3p a litre.


26 January 2010