Saturday, 5 July 2014


From the BBC

The government should spend £1bn a year from the money it collects in fuel duty to fix potholes and crumbling roads, the body that represents councils in England and Wales has said.

The Local Government Association says taking 2p from the fuel duty of 57.95p per litre could clear a "backlog".

Roads are only being "patched up" under current funding levels, it argues.

Ministers say £24bn is being spent on roads between 2010-21, with an extra £200m in 2014 available for potholes.

We already have a tax, called Vehicle Excise Duty, formerly called the Road Fund License that was named for this purpose - you want to get on the road network, you pay for the network. We then have fuel duty as a usage/pollution/congestion charge. And VED raises over £5bn/annum of which £2bn is spent on roads.

So, as there's £3bn/annum not being used for roads that comes from VED that should be, and you want £1bn/annum extra spent, why go after fuel duties instead of the VED not being used for its proper purpose?


Hwfa Morgan said...

"Roads are only being "patched up" under current funding levels, it argues"

In the absence of ring-fencing, this means that the councils are spending less of their funding on roads and more on more important things, like the financial renumeration of their senior officers. If this new funding is not ring fenced, then that will mean that the council will be free to spend it on more important things and, even if it is, it still frees up money to spend on those more important things. It's just another version of the schools'n'hospitals argument.

The Stigler said...


As I like to point out, the annual Indian arts festival in my town (which is not Slough or Leicester but somewhere very white) has never had its funding cut despite the fact that the council will always mention the threat of government cuts to old people and kids.

Mark Wadsworth said...

They are truly mentally ill.

1. Either the potholes are worth fixing or they are not (and I believe they are), regardless of how we pay for it. That's like shutting down libraries because the receipts from taxes on books aren't high enough.

2. As Churchill said, we can spend the VED money on anything we like, saying it has to be spent on roads is like saying that beer duty should be spent on building pubs.

3. When it comes to it, fuel duty is an infinitely better tax than VED. And the receipts from this would pay for road maintenance five times over (if this were even relevant, which it isn't).

The Stigler said...


The worst part is that this is exactly the sort of thing that should be a priority for councils. Fix the roads and the street lights.

A lot more councils need to do some zero-based budgeting: work out everything they have to do by law, first, then see what money is left.

Graeme said...

if council officers owned their own cars and had to buy the new tyres necessitated by crap roads, then things might change. I think that decision levels are too high - a countycouncil is way too high a level to decide on which roads need repair.

Kj said...

As MW says, potholes can be fixed with any kind of money. I see the idea about "ring-fencing" for keeping money for roads out of
five-a-day advisory services and so on, but then again, why are roads special in this context, surely it can´t be because there are specific road taxes? Should central government ring fence every penny local govt gets/taxes on their own books, should x quid go to bin disposal, how should it be allocated and so on?
Potholes are a bit of a collective action/bureaucratic problem at the base, irrespective of funding, so you´re basically down to just pestering whatever level is responsible. The more efficient the pestering is, you get the potholes fixed. I don´t know if is efficient, but it´s an intriguing domain name nonetheless.