THE number of legal claims made by drivers against the region's councils for damage caused to their vehicles by potholes almost halved last year - but the amount paid out remained almost the same, new figures have revealed.

The region's authorities dealt with 1,312 claims in 2013/14 but still paid out nearly £113,000 - almost the same amount as the previous year when almost £119,000 was handed out after a total of 2,454 legal claims were processed.

The figures were issued by the RAC Foundation after it was revealed earlier this month that there is a backlog in road repairs worth £800m across the North-East and North Yorkshire.

In terms of claims, Northumberland County Council had by far the worst record, according to the RAC statistics obtained by making Freedom of Information requests to every council in the country.

Northumberland council, dealt with 353 claims and paid of £81,788 on 235 of them. That means the authority paid out on 66 per cent of all claims, compared to a national average of just 23 per cent.

North Yorkshire County Council, the largest county in terms of size in England, had the second highest number of claims with 318 but only paid out a total of £13,344 on 13.5 per cent of them. The council with the best record was Hartlepool who had to deal with just 13 claims and paid out just £406.

The worst council in the country in the country was Surrey who had to dealt with 3,912 claims and the best was the Isle of Scilly who didn't have to deal with a single claim.

Earlier this month it was revealed that councils were struggling to repair a backlog of pothole repairs. North Yorkshire council said its repair backlog could cost £440m while Darlington had £42.6m worth of outstanding repairs, Redcar and Cleveland £65.3m, Hartlepool £22m, Middlesbrough £45m and Durham County Council £214m.

In December the Government announced money would be made available for repairs, but only £148m would be given to North Yorkshire, £6m for Hartlepool, £9m for Darlington and £62m for Durham.

That led leader of Durham County Council Simon Henig to say councils were fighting "a losing battle" and worse weather in the north should be taken into account when it came to Government funding.

Now Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, has also said councils should be given more money for roads.

He said: "The fundamental problem lies not at the doors of our town halls but with central government. Despite occasional one-off grants related to periods of harsh weather, they are simply not giving councils enough money to keep their road networks up to scratch."

A Department for Transport spokeswoman said that in fact the current Government has provided £4.7bn since 2010, a £1bn increase from the previous Government.