The authors wrote: “The case for bringing up and keeping footways in good condition at a total cost of £1.695bn is substantially strengthened by reductions in health and social care costs of up to £500m a year.”
In their conclusion, they said: “This report has shown that pedestrian falls are a significant and underreported problem, exacerbated by an ageing population and deteriorating footway conditions.”
The authors put forward three key proposals for improving the situation. This included the standardisation and improved data collection across healthcare settings and local networks, integrating costs to transport and health budgets to set funding priorities that deliver the “best value for money”.
Their last recommendation was the prompt treatment of falls and injuries and rehabilitation which “helps people back on their feet sooner” and reduces “health and social costs in the long term”.
Alongside these proposals, the authors estimated there could be as many as a million outdoor falls a year by those over the age of 65 because of uneven and broken paving.
The report has drawn criticism over the impact shoddy paving is having on an NHS close to breaking point.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, Elliot Keck, investigations campaign manager for the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “Residents will wince at the true cost of shoddy pavements.
“While huge sums are often wasted on councils’ pointless pet projects, taxpayers are picking up the bill for the results of poor maintenance. Local authorities need to get to grips with the bread-and-butter issues and deliver key services.”
Author of the report, Dr Rachel Lee, told Sky: “Poor pavements have a real cost with hospital admissions due to trips and falls placing a huge burden on NHS and local authority budgets.
“Prevention is better than cure. We need to prioritise funding for safe and hazard-free pavements, so older people can enjoy the health and social benefits that come from walking.”
A spokesperson for the Local Government Association, added: “Councils work tirelessly to repair roads and pavements to make them safe for everyone who uses them. However, due to historic cuts to funding, councils face a significant repair backlog which would take an estimated nine years to get to the bottom of.
“Councils want to bring our pavements up to scratch and make them safe for all users, particularly those who may be older or more vulnerable. To do this, the Government should use this Budget to commit to long-term funding increases to fund these vital repair works.”
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Funded by the Department for Transport, the study found the cost of repairing pavements or keeping them in their current condition, excluding those outside the capital, was £1.7billion.
A spokeswoman for the Department for Transport said: “Central government is investing more than £5 billion from 2020 to 2025 to support local highways maintenance teams with repairs and upkeep, but local councils are responsible for maintaining pavements.”
Alongside broken pavements, there has been criticism of the number of potholes in the UK with motorists demanding action over the state of the UK’s roads.
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