Funded by UK Government

Essex County Council welcomes highways maintenance funding increase, made possible by reallocated HS2 funding.

The UK Government has redirected HS2 funding totalling £8.3 billion over an eleven-year period from 2023/24 to 2033/34, to support the biggest-ever road resurfacing programme across England.

The Government anticipates that this will lead to a long-term, transformation in the condition of local highway authority roads for road users up and down the country and will improve journeys for all and provide long-term certainty for Local Authorities.

Extra £121.205m for Essex

The Government expects this funding for highways authorities to be truly additional and will be shared with councils on top of the existing Department for Transport (DfT) investment for local highway networks for 2023/24 and 2024/25 previously awarded. The Department for Transport expects it to represent more than a two-thirds increase in central Government support for local roads in Essex.

The £121,205,000 is a minimum additional funding total for the period, with a further 15% of the reallocated HS2 funding to be potentially reallocated later on, to allow for additional flexibility to be applied to best support highway maintenance initiatives across England.

The annual, additional funding levels for the remaining years will be profiled by the DfT in due course.

Public scrutiny and DfT reporting requirements

To ensure that the funding delivers an improvement in the condition of local roads and to allow a greater degree of public scrutiny over how it is spent, the DfT is introducing new reporting requirements on local authorities.

  1. Essex Highways should publish by Friday 15 March 2024, and send a copy of the weblink to the DfT, summaries of:
    • the additional resurfacing and other work either completed in 2023/24 or scheduled in 2024/25 using the additional funding for 2023/24, setting out the total volumes of additional work, specifying particular roads, communities, or locations that have benefited or will benefit from it,
    • the further additional work that will be completed during 2024/25 – again setting out both expected total volumes of additional work and where it is planned,
    • how Essex Highways is introducing innovation in the delivery of highways maintenance and where it plans to go further,
    • how Essex Highways is using its streetworks and other powers to ensure that resurfacing works are not undermined by repeated digging up of the same road by utility companies,
    • the total amount of investment in local highway networks for the previous 5 years and planned investment for 2024/25, split between DfT and local funding. 
  2. The Department will expect Essex Highways to publish quarterly reports, starting in June 2024, summarising resurfacing and other highway maintenance activities, including a list of all the roads that have been resurfaced. Once a year these will need to include signed assurance from the authority’s section 151 officer that the additional funding was spent on highway maintenance activities that would not otherwise have taken place.
  3. During 2024/25 the Department will require Essex Highways to publish a long-term plan for the use of the full 11-year funding and the transformation it will deliver. The Department will provide further advice on these long-term plans in due course, including the extent to which they should be integrated with other local plans. 

General best practice and policy

It is up to each highway authority to determine how best to spend this funding to fulfil their statutory duty under Section 41 of the Highways Act 1980 (duty to maintain highways maintainable at public expense). The Department advocates a risk-based whole lifecycle asset management approach to local authority highways maintenance programmes. This considers all parts of the highway network, such as bridges, cycleways/footways resurfacing, and lighting columns.

Local highway authorities should also consider opportunities for localised changes to the network when undertaking maintenance, including updating road markings to bring them in line with updated requirements (TSRGD 2016) and design guidance (LTN1/20). This could also include undertaking drainage works or installing dropped crossings to enhance facilities for those with disabilities. 

Works 2023/24 and 2024/25

The data below is based on a draft list of available schemes, which is subject to change.

For DfT formatted submissions please see the documents section below.

The Essex Highways Asset Management Strategic Approach to ‘Reallocated HS2 Funding’: 

Please see our Innovation, road safety, risk-based lifecycle planning and whole life costing, environmental sustainability, and ‘levelling up’ document below. 

Document PDF (1.4mb)

How we ensure roads don’t keep getting dug up

All parties undertaking works on the highway, co-ordinate short-term and long-term programmes of work for up to four years in advance, based on information sharing and good asset management practice. This prevents statutory undertakers from digging up the road for a maximum period of 3 years following full reconstruction of a road and 2 years following resurfacing of a road, unless the work is an emergency or is needed to provide a new customer service.

This collaborative approach to highways works is undertaken through meetings of the Highway Authorities and Utilities Committee (HAUC).

Essex Highways can also issue a Section 58 restriction under the New Roads and Street Works Act 1991 that prevents utility companies digging up the road for a pre-determined period once substantial roadworks, carried out by the highway authority, have been completed.

The issuing of Section 58 restrictions is undertaken by the Essex Highways Streetworks team, whose primary role is to assess and grant applications from utility companies and other organisations who wish to undertake works in the highway.This provides the best method of managing a highway authority’s road network and the works that take place in or on the public highway, to minimise disruption to the authority's network. This process is known as ‘Permit Schemes’.

Permit schemes provide for better co-ordination of all works, and closer monitoring can be used to drive behavioural change and to ensure that disruption to local communities and road users is reduced. Permit schemes affect everyone who uses the highway network in that area, but they particularly affect those who are responsible for installing and maintaining highways' and utilities' infrastructure, and their contractors.

Permit schemes require applications from utility companies and other organisations to include a sufficiently detailed description of the proposed activities to allow the authority to assess the likely impact. For example, each application for a permit must include start and end dates for the proposed works, and to indicate whether the permit should allow for work at weekends and on Bank Holidays (where applicable). Applicants are generally required to detail the times of day or night the activity is to be carried out, including the traffic management proposals as well as any requirement for action by the Authority. However, if the times aren’t stipulated/conditioned due to sensitivity issues, it is presumed that works will take place between 08:00-18:00 weekdays and 08:00-13:00 weekends.

Permitting aims to control and monitor highway occupancy. To support this process, Essex Highways FPN’s (fixed penalty notices) are issued for late start and stops, late registrations, breaching conditions of the permit or if they work without a permit. Charges can also be issued under Section 74 of ‘New Roads and Street Works Act’ (NRSWA) for prolonged overstay of the highway.

Ensuring long lasting repairs by utility undertakers

When utility companies need to open the highway to repair their apparatus, their repairs to the highway are referred to as ‘reinstatements’. All parties involved in reinstatements must consider the need to minimise long term damage from the installation, renewal, maintenance and repair of utility and highway apparatus through alternative and innovative ways of working. Trenchless technology (which avoids the requirement for digging) is also considered as part of this decision-making process.

Essex Highways employs ‘New Roads and Street Works Act’ (NRSWA) inspectors to assess the standard of reinstatements which must be compliant with SORH - Specification for the Reinstatement of Openings in Highways. This is aimed at reducing the requirement for repeated visits to renew repairs, to reduce disruption to highway users.

The score for % failures of reinstatements is recorded and is used for performance bench marking to identify undertakers with relatively high failure rates. Performance Based Inspections (PBI) are used to monitor the performance of the utility companies. These are used as the basis for regular meetings held with all utilities to discuss a whole range of issues including their performance of live sites and reinstatements, in an aim to drive better performance on the Network and protection of our assets. Meetings include discussions on repair materials, treatments, and techniques, to ensure that the latest technology is explored to bring about the desired outcomes where this provides value for money and reduces the need for digging up the highway.

HAUC meetings

Meetings of the Highway Authorities and Utilities Committee (HAUC), provide a regular forum for liaison between local authorities, utility companies and government, with the aim of working safely and in a co-ordinated manner to reduce the impact of road works on the travelling public.

Short and Long Term planned utility works are held on record at Essex Highways Streetworks, for purpose of co-ordinating these activities with our own highway works. All planned utility works, with a minimum notice period of three months for works with a duration of more than ten working days, are held in our electronic asset management system called ‘Street Manager’ which is a Department for Transport (DfT) system used to coordinate permits, procured by Essex in July 2020.

Essex Highways also liaises with neighbouring local authorities and London Boroughs, as well as National Highways (for trunk roads and motorways) and Transport for London (TFL), for cross boundary works or for those occasions where road closures and diversion routes have impact beyond Essex. Essex Highways also liaises with District, Borough, City and Parish Councils to co-ordinate environmental maintenance such as grass cutting, as these activities are shared across the county.

Total amount of annual investment in local highway networks, 2018/19 to 2024/25, split between DfT and local funding.

Highways Maintenance Capital Programme Actuals Latest Budget*
2018/19 2019/20 2020/21 2021/22 2022/23 2023/24 2024/25
£000 £000 £000 £000 £000 £000 £000
Bridges 8,690 9,306 8,494 9,902 10,020 10,044 9,950
Bus Lane Camera Enforcement 71 280 142 38 52 200 150
Footway Maintenance 7,711 9,788 8,292 8,271 8,950 11,000 9,000
Road Maintenance 49,813 38,012 40,176 39,565 41,794 48,268 57,990
Public Rights Of Way 279 460 281 393 371 400 400
Local Highways Panels 4,572 4,170 3,789 4,573 3,819 2,200 2,000
LHP Casualty Reduction Schemes - - - - 535 600 600
LHP Carriageway Schemes - - - - - 1,400 1,400
Safety Barrier Replacement 2,853 2,735 1,914 1,616 2,054 2,000 2,000
Street Lighting Replacement 3,224 2,954 3,069 2,579 2,920 3,000 3,000
Surface Water Alleviation 2,734 2,171 2,275 2,413 1,925 2,095 2,905
Traffic Signal Refurbishment 1,464 2,016 2,602 1,937 2,173 2,000 2,333
Capital Investment in Highways Network 81,411 71,892 71,034 71,286 74,612 83,207 91,728

*Note; these budgets are awaiting formal governance to add £2.4m into 2023/24 and £18.74m in 2024/25

Funding Sources 2018/19 2019/20 2020/21 2021/22 2022/23 2023/24 2024/25
£000 £000 £000 £000 £000 £000 £000
DfT funding: Integrated Transport Block 6,275 6,275 6,274 6,324 6,324 6,324 6,324
DfT funding: Highways Maintenance Incentive 4151 4,119 4,119 3,409 3,409 3,409 3,409
DfT funding: Highways Maintenance Needs~ 30,668 19,774 19,774 13,638 13,638 13,638 13,638
DfT funding: Pothole 3,907 1,406 17,979 13,638 13,638 19,093 13,638
DfT funding: Challenge Fund - - 1,038 - - - -
DfT: Traffic Signals - - - 168 82 - 242
DfT funding: Reallocated HS2 Funding - - - - - - 7,740
Local Investment: ECC Investment 36,411 40,318 21,850 34,109 37,521 40,743 46,737
Capital Investment in Highways Network 81,411 71,892 71,034 71,286 74,612 83,207 91,728

~Includes £10.894m as part of additional maintenance grant to enable authorities to tackle potholes, repair damaged roads, and invest in keeping bridges open and safe

Financial Year Total DfT Capital Grant Funding
Total amount of capital investment in the maintenance of local highway networks (including both council and DfT grant funding streams)
Total amounts of revenue spend on the maintenance of local highway networks
2019/20 31,574 71,892 32,767
2020/21 49,184 71,034 34,285
2021/22 37,177 71,286 29,102
2022/23 37,091 74,612 32,218
2023/24 42,464 83,207 28,692
2024/25 44,991 91,728 26,951

Quarterly reports of works completed/scheduled

Quarterly and annual reports will be published here.

Long-Term Asset Management plan for use of the full 11-year funding, and the transformation it will deliver

To be drafted during 2024/25, following receipt of pending guidance from DfT.