Local authority roads to be funded from vehicle excise duty

The government is set to channel £1bn of extra funding into local roads as part of its new transport investment strategy.

The Department for Transport (DfT) proposes the creation of a ‘major road network’, which would see a share of the annual national road fund, financed by vehicle excise duty (VED), given to local authorities to improve or replace A roads currently under their management.

Transport secretary Chris Grayling said: “The proposals for the major road network respond to the Rees Jeffreys Road Fund study last year, which highlighted the disparity between the funding and planning of Britain’s motorways — the strategic road network — and local authority A roads.

“The new plans mean that main roads currently overseen by local authorities would share the VED-funded national roads fund which was previously ring-fenced for national routes. UK VED was £5.8bn for 2016-17.”

Grayling told The Times that £1bn of the VED funding, which is expected to rise to £6.8bn in five years’ time, would be allocated to A roads outside of Highways England’s control.

He continued: “The transport investment strategy also plans for a new ‘rebalancing’ measure, which will judge how investment programmes contribute to a more balanced economy, and prioritises investment that increases productivity or growth, supports new housing, improves reliability and tackles congestion.

“Investment should support every part of the country, and, where needed, fast track smaller schemes that are proven solutions so passengers and drivers get the benefits more quickly.”

The government has allocated more than £61bn to transport over the five years to 2020-21. An additional £2.6bn was added in the autumn statement as part of a national productivity investment fund, which included an extra £1.1bn for local transport and £220m for national roads.

Director of external affairs for the Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA) Marie-Claude Hemming said: “Proposals for a major roads network should be welcomed, as they will enable local authorities to target investment where it is needed, to the benefit of road users and the taxpayer.

“CECA is also a keen advocate of rebalancing the economy, and has argued that all nations and regions in the UK must be given the opportunity to become powerhouses in their own right.”