Fact checking a Canal & River Trust claim

Published: Thursday, 23 February 2023

WITH licence fees already rising at 3% above inflation.

The cost of waterside moorings rising by 10% and a divisive consultation announced which will see boaters' costs rise even more, perhaps it is time to put the spotlight on Canal & River Trust's financial performance.

Allan Richards fact checks just one of CaRT’s justifications for rises in licence fees.

CaRT press release

In its press release asking boaters to take part in its latest consultation on boat licencing fees, CaRT makes the following claim:

'Since the trust was formed, it has grown other sources of income to keep the network running. The trust’s annual income from investments has increased from £41.9 million in 2013/14 to £51.4 million in 2021/22 (higher growth than the market average) …'

This is, of course, a variation on CaRT’s often repeated claim that its investment income is in the upper quartile (i.e. top 25%) compared to others.

However, not only are the above figures given incorrect, they are also irrelevant to CaRT’s performance.


Perhaps deliberately: 'Joint Venture' income has been excluded from the 2013/14 'investments' figure but included in the 2021/22 figure.

Adding 'Joint Ventures' to the 2013/14 figure gives:


… a paltry £800,000 growth instead of the almost £10 million claimed in the press release!


… and the income CaRT is referring to is gross income.

This is not relevant to what is available to spend on maintaining the waterways (and for other charitable purposes). This is because money has to be spent on raising this gross income. It is the net income after deductions that determines the 'contribution' made.

Contribution for 'Investments' and 'Joint Ventures' is as follows:

2013/14£39.0m (£41.9)
2021/22£33.7m (£51.4)

Figures are taken from annual reports with CaRT’s claim given in brackets.


CaRT’s claim does not 'fact check'.

The Trust would like boaters to think that they have been financially successful with the £460m of assets that were transferred from British Waterways. CaRT’s last annual report values those assets at £1.14 billion.

One would have expected

'contribution' to have doubled. Instead, it has declined significantly!

Rather than own up to its financial mismanagement, CaRT blames the weather, increased regulation and a government grant that is not keeping up with inflation for its financial predicament.

… and once again boaters will have to pay more to hide CaRT’s failings.