Councils pay out nearly £2 million over pothole damage to cars

UK drivers lodged more than 31,000 claims for pothole damage to their cars last year, costing councils nearly £2 million in payouts, according to the RAC Foundation.

Compensation from pothole damage
Compensation from pothole damage

The latest statistics from the motor body revealed that the number of people lodging claims against councils in 2015-16 rose by nine per cent on the previous year, with the average claim worth £432.

A total of 31,483 claims were made against the 204 local authorities who responded to the RAC Foundation’s request for data.

Sign up to our daily SussexWorld Today newsletter

That equates to one claim every 17 minutes in 2015-16.

However, councils paid out in just over a quarter of all claims (26.9 per cent) and the average payout for a successful claim was £306.

Nonetheless, the combined cost to local authorities was £1.78m, with the vast majority of successful claims made against English councils.

West Sussex saw a total of 557 claims made for damage to vehicles. Of these 11 per cent were successful, leading to the council paying out a total of £37,611 to motorists.

Last year there were just 80 successful claims, paying out £19,779.

Nationally, the council hit by the highest number of claims was Hampshire, which faced 1,952 cases. Of those 32 per cent (306) were successful, leading to a total payout of £103,480. It was followed by Surrey (1,412 claims) and Hertfordshire (1,369), although in Hertfordshire a mere 14 per cent of claims were successful.

Only the Isles of Scilly saw no claims at all, with Orkney Council and the City of London receiving just one claim each.

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “These figures are symptomatic of the inadequate funding available for local road maintenance.

“Year in, year out, the backlog of work on local roads is estimated to run to several billion pounds.

“A pitted road surface isn’t just a problem for motorists – for those on two wheels it can be life threatening.

“Just last week the Chancellor acknowledged that there had been decades of underfunding in the nation’s infrastructure and that he was keen to support targeted, value-for-money public investment. Providing the funds to fix our roads would be a great place to start and would show rapid results.”

In April this year, the Government said it would give councils in England £50 million to repair nearly one million potholes on their road networks.