As you may know, to date, the Canal & River Trust has been supported with £550 million funding from the Government. While there is no obligation on Ministers to fund the Canal & River Trust beyond 2027, I am aware that, subject to certain conditions being met, the Government will offer a new long-term funding package of over £400 million.
While I appreciate the extent of your concerns, it is important to recognise that, since it was first created in 2012 as a private charity independent of the Government, Ministers have been clear that the Canal & River Trust should become progressively more financially self-sufficient.
I understand that a Memorandum of Understanding between the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Canal & River Trust signed in June 2012 included the objective to “reduce dependence on Government Grant and to foster increasing self-sufficiency, by providing access to new charitable income streams and stimulating new efficiencies.” I am aware that the long-term £400 million funding deal for 2027 to 2037 continues that objective.
Finally, Defra has been discussing this with the charity for some time and has been offering support on how it can increase income from other sources, alongside continued funding from the Government.
Nonetheless, The Canal & River Trust is responsible for 2,000 miles of waterways and associated historic industrial infrastructure in England and Wales. It has proven to be effective at maintaining the navigability and safety of its waterways including reservoirs, embankments and other infrastructure.
Please be assured, the Government recognises that the organisation has an important role to play in contributing to the Environmental Improvement Plan. As such, once Parliament returns from the summer recess, I will raise this matter with my ministerial colleagues. I know both they and I look forward to continued enjoyment of our local waterways.