The charity making life better by water

Annual Report & Accounts

Our 2022/23 Annual Report & Accounts highlight the importance of our canal network and the significant risks they face due to a shortfall in funding and more frequent extreme weather events.

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.

Explore our work

Caring for our waterways

Over winter 2022/23 we spent more than £54 million on large maintenance and repair projects.

With over 10,000 individual assets and structures including bridges, lock gates, aqueducts and reservoirs, many of which are up to 250 years old, it is a challenge to keep our ageing waterways in a safe condition.

Creating places for people and nature

Our busy waterways provide millions of people with access to outdoor space and nature, great for wellbeing and happiness.

Creating opportunities to improve wellbeing

We believe waterways have the power to make a difference to people’s lives and that spending time by water can make us all happier and healthier.

Celebrating our waterways

Wales

Our waterways are transforming places and enriching lives in Wales. But climate change poses a threat to their historic infrastructure, so we must ensure that investment continues to avert the risk that they fall into decline.

Generating income

We have continued to diversify our income streams to support the financial resilience of the Trust. Our trading and investment activities continued to make a significant contribution to our work, generating £142.4 million in income for waterway maintenance and repairs.

Kingfisher in flight with small fish in its beak

Support our work

We need your support to keep canals and rivers alive. Donate today to make a difference

Annual Public Meeting

Our Annual Public Meeting will once again be held online, on 1 November 2023. Questions to our chair and chief executive can be submitted in advance or during the meeting via [email protected].

Last Edited: 02 November 2023

photo of a location on the canals
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