The Government has announced a reduced funding settlement to the Canal & River Trust of ‘over £400m’ for the ten-year period from April 2027 which marks a a steep reduction in funding of more than £300 million in real terms over a ten-year period from 2027. According to CRT it will equate to at least a 40% reduction of funding in real terms compared to recent levels.
The current funding, which has been fixed at £52.6m per annum since 2021, is already failing to keep up with inflation and the physical toll that more frequent severe weather is having on the waterways’ infrastructure. This will inevitably result in a decline in the overall condition of the network. Worryingly, it may mean closing canals which threatens livelihoods, businesses, homes, heritage and irreplaceable natural habitats.
Fund Britain’s Waterways (FBW) is bringing together a wide range of organisations with the sole purpose of campaigning collectively for an increase in government funding of Britain’s inland waterways to avert their decline, and to promote awareness of the huge economic, environmental and social wellbeing value they provide. Established in June 2023, it already has over 40 members representing hundreds of thousands of users and supporters of inland waterways. FBW is campaigning to ensure that beyond this Parliament there will be sufficient grant funding to retain the huge environmental, economic and social benefits that Britain’s inland waterways provide. That includes the 2,000 miles of waterways managed by CRT which alone contribute £6.1bn per year in economic and social value. It is why, as part of FBW’s broader campaign, it will continue to work with CRT and others to encourage the Government to rethink this week’s funding announcement.
IWA CEO, Professor Sarah Niblock, added: “The waterways renaissance has been one of the UK’s biggest success stories of the past 50 years on all levels. It is actually hard to find the words to express how devastated we feel and how fearful we are for the future in the wake of this decision. Sadly, the government don’t seem to have even referred to their own data on the sheer scale of benefits offered by the waterways to our economy, ecology and wellness. I urge everyone to express their concerns to their MPs as a priority.”
IWA, a founder member of FBW, suggest four ways you can take personal action:
1. Write to your MP to tell them how much you love your local canals and rivers and why they need to be funded adequately. IWA have prepared a template for you to personalise here and you can find your local MP’s contact details here . It only takes a few minutes but can make a huge difference.
2. Please make a one-off or regular donation to IWA, however small, to support our campaigning activities via this link . Every penny goes towards our work.
3. Join IWA as a member. You can find out more here . We are representing and campaigning for all waterways users, not just boaters. We would love to welcome you to our community.
4. Spread the word to friends and colleagues – share our campaign hashtag #ProtectOurWaterways, like and share our social media posts or visit their website to learn more about the campaign.