M8 motorway in Glasgow shot with long exposure.

Claim SNP roads spending is down 95 per cent is Mostly False

The Scottish Government’s record on roads has been criticised by the Conservatives on social media. 

In a post on X (formerly Twitter), the party said that the SNP-led administration was “pandering to the anti-car agenda” of junior coalition partners, the Scottish Greens. 

The Conservative Party’s account claimed there had been a 95 per cent reduction in spending on roads in Scotland under the SNP over the last eight years.  

“The SNP’s spending on roads has dropped by a staggering 95 per cent since 2016”.

Scottish Conservatives’ X account

Ferret Fact Service looked at this claim and found it Mostly False.

Ferret Fact Service | Scotland's impartial fact check project

Evidence

Control over transport in Scotland is devolved to the SNP-run Scottish Government, which is responsible for the maintenance and expansion of public roads across the country. This is delivered through Transport Scotland. 

Transport Scotland covers trunk roads, which are major roads usually linking areas, towns and cities. Minor local roads are the responsibility of councils, and they are maintained through local government funding. 

The Scottish Conservatives’ claim that “spending on roads” has decreased by 95 per cent since 2016 comes from a freedom of information (FoI) request to Transport Scotland. 

Its response highlighted major road project construction spending since 2016-17 had decreased from £502,293,793 in 2016-17 to £26,260,821 in 2022-23. This is a decrease of 94.8 per cent, in line with the claim of a 95 per cent reduction since 2016. 

However, this figure does not include spending on the dualling of the A9 road between Perth and Inverness, which was not included in the FoI response.

There has been significant spending on the dualling, the completion of which has been delayed by ten years until 2035. More than £43m was spent on overall A9 dualling in 2022. 

Major construction projects, part of capital spending, are only one part of the budget that is spent on the major road network. 

A significant part of Scotland’s roads budget is spent on road maintenance, which deals with routine repairs and adjustments to keep roads in good condition. 

Transport Scotland’s annual figures show a spend on capital projects of £176m in 2021-22, down from £434m spent in 2016-17. This is a decrease of 59.5 per cent. 

For overall spending, including maintenance, the figures show a £673m spend in 2021-22, a reduction of five per cent from the £713m spent on the road network in 2016-17. 

These figures include spending expenditure on maintenance, reconstruction, resurfacing of roads and minor improvements to the road network.

Capital spending hit a peak in 2016-17 in part due to the construction of the Queensferry Crossing, which replaced the Forth Road Bridge and opened in August 2017.

Ferret Fact Service verdict: Mostly False

The Scottish Conservatives claim that roads spending has reduced by 95 per cent is misleading. Spending has reduced since 2016-17, but the statistics cited by the party only refer to major capital spending and do not include routine road maintenance. The figures used also do not include spending on dualling the A9 to Inverness. 

This claim is Mostly False

Ferret Fact Service (FFS) is a non-partisan fact checker, and signatory to the International Fact-Checking Network fact-checkers’ code of principles.

All the sources used in our checks are publicly available and the FFS fact-checking methodology can be viewed here.

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