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The charity making life better by water

Annual Report & Accounts 2020

The 2020 Annual Report & Accounts charted a year when income, volunteering and spend on our charitable activities grew to record levels and a period that also saw extreme weather events contribute to widespread infrastructure damage, including the emergency at Toddbrook Reservoir, and the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Our income increased by £6.1 million in 2019/20 to £216.1 million and spend on charitable activities increased by £10.9 million, with underlying expenditure on core maintenance, repairs and infrastructure works continuing to grow.

Implications of coronavirus

The implications of the coronavirus pandemic for the Trust, including the furloughing of staff, impact on community activities, volunteering and day-to-day operations, as well as the important role the waterways played during lockdown when the towpaths demonstrated their value in providing accessible green and blue space for local people, are examined in the Report.

The Report acknowledges that, whilst our income and investments will be affected by the pandemic, the full economic impact of the crisis is not yet fully known. As we prioritise spend on winter works in the months ahead, with a full maintenance and repair programme, we have indicated a likely loss of income in the current year of around 10%.

Whilst boating was put on hold for most during the initial stages of lockdown, the Report does highlight a small growth in boat numbers and income from boating and moorings remaining at just under 20% of income in 2019/20.

The 2019/20 highlights

  • We now have direct connection with over 600,000 supporters
  • 84,330 children took part in face-to-face activities with our ‘Explorer' education volunteers
  • 70% of young people who volunteer locally feel a strong sense of belonging to their community
  • 86.5 of our listed structures were assessed to be in ‘Fair' condition or better
  • 45% of dredged material was reused and recycled
  • 82% of waste we produced was either reused or recycled
  • 641 planned repair projects were undertaken
  • Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Canal celebrated ten years as a UNESCO World Heritage Site

The true 2019/20 figure for ‘visitor satisfaction' on page 48 has been verified as 87% since publication (rather than the published figure of 81%).

The 2019/20 figure of 83.78% for heritage assets assessed on completion of work as good or adequate should be disregarded as incorrect due to the effect of Covid-19 on the year end heritage assessment surveys due to be undertaken in March and April 2020, causing most to be cancelled. No result should be recorded for this measure for 2019/20.

Resources spent on charitable activities

Spend on charitable activities increased by £10.9 million this year, with underlying expenditure on core maintenance, repairs and infrastructure works continuing to grow.

Graphic of expenditure


The Trust's income increased by £6.1 million in 2019/20 to £216.1 million.

Graphic of income

Last Edited: 28 October 2021

photo of a location on the canals
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