Concern Over Canal Funding Cut

Waterways supporters asked to lobby their MP immediately

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The Inland Waterways Association


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Concerns are being raised that financial problems at the ministry responsible for maintaining the nation's canals could lead to another year of cuts in the budget for the network.

The Inland Waterways Association (IWA) understands that ministers are to be presented with a package for £130 million of immediate cuts to the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs’ budget with radical options for another £140 million of savings. This would affect all DEFRA-funded bodies, including British Waterways and the Environment Agency and would be in addition to 5% year-on-year cuts already reported. British Waterways is allegedly at the top of the list for further cuts to its funding.

IWA claim that British Waterways and the Environment Agency have not recovered from their share of the £200m cuts to funding imposed by the Treasury last year after DEFRA mismanaged payments to farmers following a reform of agricultural subsidies.

John Fletcher IWA national chairman said, “This is bad news for the waterways in general and very disappointing for IWA, as we have endeavoured to work with the new minister and BW to reach a constructive dialogue for firm commitments on future funding. Despite this, the waterways community now faces a £5 million known budget deficit, a 33% or more licence increase, a trebling of fuel costs, 200 plus waterway job cuts, indeterminate maintenance cuts and now more budgetary cuts of an unknown nature”.

Syed Kamall, Conservative MEP for London vowed to fight further cuts to London's canal network saying "Our canals are already struggling to cope with the cuts imposed on them last year. They cannot afford to lose more money and vital staff."

The IWA are urging all waterway supporters should contact their MP as soon as possible, as important funding decisions are being made in the next four weeks. IWA is concerned that substantial budget cuts to British Waterways would raise the likelihood of closure of canals due to an inability to fund routine maintenance and safety requirements.

The Government believe that British Waterways substantial property portfolio should be providing funding for their work.


November 23, 2007