Most vehicle miles travelled in England are on local roads. They are used by a wide variety of groups, including private vehicles, goods vehicles, public transport, bicycles and pedestrians.

Funding for the maintenance of local roads is provided by the Department for Transport and the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities to local highways authorities, who are responsible for maintaining their road networks to an adequate standard. However, data published by the Department for Transport shows that the condition of roads is declining. The backlog of maintenance issues and the cost of this backlog is increasing. In 2023, an industry survey estimated the one-time catch-up cost to clear the backlog of maintenance issues in England would cost £12.1 billion and take 11 years to complete.


This study will examine the condition of local roads in England and the Department for Transport’s approach to funding their maintenance. It will examine:

  • government’s understanding of the condition of local roads
  • the arrangements for allocating funds to highways authorities for the maintenance of local roads
  • whether the funding that is provided for maintaining local roads is being used efficiently and effectively

NAO Team

Director: Jonny Mood
Audit Manager: Helen Roberts