Summary of 2022/23 Annual Report & Accounts
Whilst the report celebrates record usage of the network with 888 million visits, and more boats than ever before, it also highlights the impacts of rapid inflation and external, global factors affecting supply chains.
These have added to the increasing cost of maintaining our 2,000-mile network with its many thousands of structures including reservoirs, aqueducts, bridges, locks and heritage buildings.
There was an increase in income to £225.1 million (2021/22: £214.6 million) mainly due to inflationary increases in commercial revenue. Spend on charitable activities increased to £199.5 million (2021/22: £180.2 million). The financial contribution from government, representing just under a quarter of our income, remained frozen with no allowance for inflation, and therefore continued to decline in real terms.
We delivered one of our largest programmes of repairs and maintenance to date, described in the report, with 83 large-scale works including statutory works to reservoirs, and a further 325 in-house construction projects.
Nonetheless, with rapid inflation and the increasing fragility of the ageing network, urgent measures had to be taken to address a projected shortfall in its finances, with maintenance and repairs focussed on the most critical and urgent issues.
Beyond 2027, when our existing grant agreement ends, the government has announced year-on-year cuts to funding amounting to more than £300 million in real terms compared to recent levels.
Launching a campaign to ‘Keep Canals Alive’, we have warned that the proposed cuts to funding would see an inevitable decline in the condition of the network leading to eventual canal closures.