Commenting on the Government’s funding settlement from 2027 for the Canal & River Trust, Michael Fabricant (Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Waterways Group) explains: “When the old British Waterways Board – a part of the Department of Transport – was converted into a charitable Trust 11 years ago, the plan was that the Canal & River Trust would become financially independent by 2027 and they received a 15 year grant. They have gone a long way towards financial independence, but have not achieved it yet. The present grant does not run out for a further four years by which time the Trust will have received £735 million from the Government in addition to their own operations including mooring fees, rents on property, endowments, and other income. The annual average income from the Government amounts to £50 million per year.
“The new financial settlement is for 10 years and averages out at over £40 million a year, but is less taking into account inflation. But this won’t kick in until April 2027 so there is still considerable time to resolve the funding gap.
“As Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Waterways which includes canals in its remit, I have had several conversations with the chief executive of the Canal & River Trust, the Secretary of State for the Environment, Therese Coffey, and Treasury Ministers to discuss the Government’s grant. We are exploring alternative ways of funding including the possibility of a large endowment which might give the Trust the financial independence both the Trust and the Government desire.
“We all enjoy our waterways whether it be on the water or walking along canal towpaths. This valuable asset cannot be jeopardised and I hope a resolution is found over the next year or so to allow the Trust to plan ahead.”
Michael with Richard Parry, Chief Executive of the Canal & River Trust