Highways self-assessment deadline looms

On 22 December, the Department for Transport (DfT) released details of the final self-assessment process for the £578 million highways incentive fund, available to English local highways authorities outside London.

Authorities need to return their self-assessments to the DfT by 31 January 2016, to receive their incentive funding for 2016/17.

Each authority will score themselves against 22 questions, and place themselves into one of three bands on the basis of the available evidence. The DfT will not necessarily want to see the supporting evidence from every local highway authority, although it reserves the right to undertake sample audits.

It will, however, be the responsibility of the Section 151 Officer at each local authority to ensure they are satisfied the evidence is sufficient to sign off the overall submission and total score.

The incentive funding awarded to each local highway authority will be based on their score in this questionnaire, and will be relative to the amount received through the needs-based funding formula.

In 2016/17, only authorities in bands 2 and 3 will receive their full share of the £578 million, while authorities in band 1 will receive 90% of their share.

The percentages for bands 1 and 2 decrease in each subsequent year, with only authorities in band 3 being awarded their full share of the funding.

A highways authority will be placed in band 1 (the lowest) if it does not reach level 2 or 3 in at least 15 of the 22 self-assessment questions. It will be placed in band 2 if it reaches levels 2 or 3 in at least 15 of the 22 questions, and band 3 if it achieves levels 2 or 3 in at least 18 of the 22 questions. Details about the self-assessment, and the assessment itself, can be found in guidance published by the DfT.

The DfT has also launched a Highways Maintenance Appraisal Tool (HMAT), which it describes as a “potentially significant step towards better understanding the full benefits of highways maintenance.”

The DfT is encouraging all highways authorities to start using HMAT as it allows highway authorities “to assess the economic cost and benefits of their proposed asset management strategies and compare between different options”.

To help you as you begin to implement changes to your policies and highway management, please read our series of supporting articles:

Highways Code of Practice Update

How To Get Maximum Highways Funding

Keeping On Track With Highway Asset Management

Keep an eye on our website for more to come this year.