Local authorities pay out £22 million in pothole compensation

Consumer magazine Which? has revealed that local authorities in England and Wales have paid out over £22 million in compensation to motorists who have had their vehicles damaged by potholes.

Rather than investing this money in fixing the problems, the figures suggest local authorities would prefer to leave potholes and settle the claims on their insurance policies.

But individuals also face a "pothole lottery" depending on where they live, says Which?

Councils in the North West of England paid out the most in compensation at £8million, according to figures collated for Which? by the Asphalt Industry Association.

It was followed by Yorkshire and Humberside (£3.3million), London (£3.2million), the South east (£2.7million) the west Midlands (£1.8million) and Wales (£1.4million).

The recent cold snap won't help the current poor state of UK roads despite the Government handing English councils an extra £140 million in December to tackle the problem.

But that money isn't likely to improve much as Which? found that the backlog of road repairs per local authority in England is getting bigger, growing from £53.2 million in 2009 to £61.3 million last year.

Local authorities have estimated it will cost £12.93 billion to clear the entire road maintenance backlog in the UK.

It is clear the Government is struggling to keep up with the ever-increasing amount of potholes on UK roads but Which? says motorists should continue to challenge councils to pay up when their vehicles are damaged as an incentive for them to keep roads in good order - and collect photographic evidence to support claims.

POTHOLE COMPENSATION CLAIMS 2012: BY REGION

North West (17councils) £8m
Yorkshire & Humberside (10 councils) £3.3m
London (24 councils) £3.2m
South east (13 councils) £2.7m
West Midlands (7 councils) £1.8m
Wales (14 councils) £1.4m
North east (10 councils) £1m
South west (11 councils) £1m
East (9 councils) £0.3m
East Midlands (6 councils) £0.1m
TOTAL ENGLAND & WALES £22.8m