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Almost £13m paid out in pothole compensation to 37,000 drivers

Pothole

Councils and road authorities in England, Scotland and Wales have paid out almost £13 million for vehicle damage caused by potholes between January 2018 and October 2021, new research suggests.

Motorists across England, Scotland and Wales submitted more than 145,000 compensation claims to councils, with 37,366 motorists receiving compensation, on average, of £347 – a success rate of 25%.

The cost of filling a pothole has previously been estimated to cost £47. 

National Highways (formerly Highways England), in charge of England’s trunk roads, was the highest paying authority, stumping up just over £865,000 in compensation.

The research, from What Car?, comes after The Asphalt Industry Alliance published its latest ALARM report, with local authorities in England and Wales facing a nine-year backlog of road repairs estimated to cost more than £12 billion

Five county and city councils were found to have paid more than half a million in compensation between 2018 and October 2021, including Lincolnshire County Council, Surrey County Council, Lancashire County Council, Staffordshire County Council, and Stoke-on-Trent City Council. 

Lincolnshire County Council received the highest number of damage claims across the four years, with 8,810 claims, of which 4,313 were successful, costing the local authority more than £760,000 – £177 per claim. 

Wiltshire Council was found to have the highest share of compensation claims paid, with 86% of the 1,594 claims paid, totalling £302,000 over the four-year period.

Slough Borough Council and Stoke-on-Trent City Councils were the second and third highest, paying out 65% and 62% of all claims, respectively.

In total, 11 councils across Britain paid more than half of all claims. 

Not all local authorities answered the Freedom of Information request; 344 responded while 161 said they were unable to provide figures as road compensation often fell under the remit of county and city councils, rather than borough or district councils.

Meanwhile, a survey of motorists it conducted found almost one in four 24% motorists had damaged their vehicle in the past 18 months from hitting a pothole.

Two-thirds of respondents were aware they could claim for the damage caused from their local roads authority, though only one in 10 had ever done so. 

Top 20 councils and road authorities per pothole compensation 

Position Council or Road Authority Total Claims Claims successful Share of claims paid out

Total Payout

(£)
1 Highways England  4,781 2,707 56.62% 865,254.75 
2 Lincolnshire County Council 8,810 4,313 48.96% 764,588.00 
3 Surrey County Council 6,380 893 14.00% 608,284.00 
4 Lancashire County Council 4,016 1,903 47.39% 520,745.26 
5 Staffordshire County Council 5,659 1,502 26.54% 517,367.00 
6 Stoke-on-Trent City Council 1,430 892 62.38% 507,055.78 
7 Oxfordshire County Council 3,578 1,512 41.11% 378,770.00 
8 Cambridgeshire County Council 2,666 942 35.33% 354,931.56 
9 Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council 804 75 9.33% 350,500.00 
10 Dumfries and Galloway Council 1,568 585 37.31% 324,111.39 
11 Wiltshire Council 1,594 1,381 86.64% 302,911.10 
12 Shropshire Council 2,412 811 33.62% 282,454.13 
13 Dudley Metropolitan Borough 463 238 51.40% 262,862.49 
14 West Northamptonshire Council* 2,995 770 25.71% 234,961.87 
15 Derbyshire County Council 2,099 772 36.78% 222,264.60 
16 Hampshire County Council 6,046 732 12.11% 219,284.22 
17 Northumberland County Council 1,409 663 47.05% 196,450.00 
18 Warwickshire County Council 1.153 515 44.67% 189,853.00 
19 Flintshire County Council 600 248 41.33% 177,205.00 
20 Devon County Council 2,734 720 26.34% 170,069.00 

*As of the April 1, 2021, South Northamptonshire Council, Northamptonshire County Council, Northampton Borough Council and Daventry District Council ceased to exist and formed the new West Northamptonshire Unitary Council. The data provided prior to the April 1, 2021, relates to those claims submitted to Northamptonshire County Council and covers the County as a whole. The data provided since April 1, 2021, relates to the West Northamptonshire area of the County only.

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