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A study carried out by the RAC Foundation shows that drivers made at least 31,483 claims against councils for vehicle damage caused by poor road conditions in the last financial year.

This equates to a claim being submitted every seventeen minutes in 2015/16. However, councils only paid out in just over a quarter (26.9%) of cases.

The analysis by the RAC Foundation is based on data collected from 204 out the 207 local authorities in Great Britain.

The average value of a claim was £432, though the average value of a successful claim was lower at £306.

The council with the highest number of claims made against it was Hampshire (1,952), followed by Surrey (1,412) and Hertfordshire (1,369).

ENGLAND(and GB)2015/16
Local AuthorityRank based on 2015/16 number of claimsNumber of claimsValue of Successful ClaimsNumber of Successful ClaimsPercentage of completed claims that were successful
Hampshire11,952£103,48030632%
Surrey21,412£143,06026227%
Hertfordshire31,369£88,45918414%
Kent41,120£30,94811210%
Lancashire5930£38,6299617%

The Scottish council with the highest number of claims was Glasgow with 794 claims.

SCOTLAND2015/16
Local AuthorityRank based on 2015/16 number of claimsNumber of claimsValue of Successful ClaimsNumber of Successful ClaimsPercentage of completed claims that were successful
Glasgow City1794£13,929579%
Edinburgh2512£29,32917354%
Perth and Kinross3339£11,5624137%
Renfrewshire4287£21,35111655%
Dumfries & Galloway5275£6,3122821%

The Welsh council with the highest number of claims was Cardiff with 237 claims.

WALES2015/16
Local AuthorityRank based on 2015/16 number of claimsNumber of claimsValue of Successful ClaimsNumber of Successful ClaimsPercentage of completed claims that were successful
Cardiff1237£11,9525150%
The Vale of Glamorgan2173£7,3273956%
Swansea397£58467%
Powys477£7,8782054%
Neath Port Talbot5=76£30671777%
Bridgend5=76£8,2344066%

The only council in Great Britain to receive no claims for vehicle damage caused by potholes in 2015/16 was the Isles of Scilly. Orkney Council and the City of London received just one claim each.

The total number of claims received in 2015/16 by councils across Great Britain (31,483) is about a 9% increase on the previous year (28,971 claims in 2014/15) but less than the 48,945 claims made in 2013/14.

Three-year summary table:

Claims received by council highways authoritiesNumber of successful claims(Percentage of all claims that were successful)Value of successful claims
2013/142014/152015/162013/142014/152015/162013/142014/152015/16
England42,94325,34825,4719,872(23%)6,143(26%)4,832(27%)£2,922,367£1,876,056£1,559,232
Scotland4,5112,7464,7331,126(25%)520(21%)749(27%)£228,161£98,141£162,674
Wales1,4918771,279266(18%)134(17%)249(33%)£72,960£30,585£62,332
GB48,94528,97131,48311,264(26%)6,797(25%)5,830(27%)£3,223,488£2,004,782£1,784,238

(Note, an exact comparison cannot be made because of slight annual differences in the number of councils who responded to FOI requests and whose data was subsequently used:
201 councils in 2013/14, 200 councils in 2014/15, 204 councils in 2015/16.)

The government’s own assessment is that there is a road maintenance backlog of up to £8.6 billion. The latest annual ALARM survey of local authority highways departments puts it at £11.8 billion.

The figures do not take into account either the size of the authority or the traffic volumes on their roads and hence there is no assessment of the rate of claims per mile of road under management or rate of claims per vehicle mile.

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.”