Transport Asset Management Plans (TAMPs) will be included in Local Authority accounting in the future, the Treasury has confirmed.
In a letter obtained by NCE, written to the chief executive of the Chartered Institute for Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) Steve Freer, chief secretary of the Treasury Yvette Cooper said it was a: "matter of concern that, as your report clearly shows, most authorities do not have good quality information about the nature of their transport infrastructure assets, or the true costs of holding and maintaining them."
TAMPs would give authorities a standard set of tools for measuring the condition of transport infrastructure, allowing them to rank urgent jobs more efficiently.
CIPFA had been commissioned to investigate the implementation of TAMPs in June 2008. In its report, CIPFA recommended switching wholesale to TAMPs in 2010/11 when Local Authorities would switch to International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS).
Local Authorities are currently encouraged to adopt TAMPs, but take-up is piecemeal.
CIPFA estimated that, should adequate plans be put in place, Local Authorities could save some £250M per year.
The CIPFA report proposed that the government invest £15M to: "Set up systems and collect and input core inventory data, which would require funding support from stakeholders. After this initial ‘pump- priming’, the efficiency benefits delivered by better asset management should be capable of funding the ongoing information needs."
Ms Cooper said that the speed at which Local Authorities had implemented TAMPs was: "disappointing", but she added that she supported: "the recommendation that for research to examine whether AMPs could be applied to other types of local authority assets."
Chair of the UK Roads Board, Matthew Lugg, said the move was good news for local authorities.
"Everything we hoped for is included in this letter. It is important that approval came from the Treasury - that we should value our transport assets and measure how they depreciate. This is important and significant."
Lugg said the Department for Transport had a pot of £32M it could hand-out to authorities that have not yet developed TAMPs. "Authorities should be doing TAMPs anyway, but now they have to," he said.
"This will lead to better management of road infrastructure, but we do not want there to be too much analysis. We are working on some quick-start guidance so authorities can get started on their TAMPs," he said.
Lugg said the news was the result of: "6 years of hard work to get TAMPs embedded - it will make better use of the money we have got."
The treasury intends to make TAMPs compulsory in 2010/11, but has given some provision for those authorities struggling to develop their TAMPs the freedom to put this deadline back for a year. "This is the right way to do it, as it will pin authorities down," said Lugg.