Budget anouncement on BW’s 2020

As  part of the budget, the Government have announced the plan to move British Waterways  into a ‘mutual’ organisation, such as a charitable trust.


This is a "yes" to the BW 2020 proposals and implies a commitment to leaving the property portfolio with BW.


There is a press release from BW on this link:


You can read the Government document on a link from there, but the relevant text to BW is below. There is no further detail at the moment.

My immediate reaction is positive, but the following thoughts come to mind.

That was quick, why is this announced before the election?

What happens to Scotland?

What about the level of grant in aid?

What do the Tories think and will they support if they are in power?

What legislation is required?


These are interesting times.




Text from the Government paper called Reforming Arm’s length Bodies

As a result of further work, the Government can announce additional reforms as follows,

subject to necessary consultation and legislation:

Mutualising British Waterways in England and Wales1

giving the waterways’ users

and the communities that live alongside a greater say in how they are managed

and reducing the long-term public liability by transferring responsibility for

waterways maintenance to the third sector

Box 2.A: Mutualising British Waterways

Since publication of the OEP asset portfolio in December 2009, the Government has been

looking at the appropriate structure for British Waterways as a whole. The work has

concluded that it would be desirable to mutualise British Waterways in England and Wales5,

giving the waterways’ users and the communities that live alongside a greater involvement in

how they are managed, and reducing the public sector’s long-term liability for their


There are a number of possible forms for a mutual. At present the favoured option is a

charitable trust responsible for managing waterways assets on a long lease with the nonoperational

property endowment held in a ‘charity locked’ arrangement. However further

work is needed to identify the exact form of mutual and the detail of its governance and

relationship with government. In undertaking this work, the Government’s objectives

will be to:

• ensure robust governance arrangements and purpose so waterways assets and

the public benefits they bring are protected now and in the future;

• develop a governance structure that allows all users, local communities and other

stakeholders to hold the new body to account; and

• put the waterways on a long-term sustainable footing while reducing the

ongoing cost to the taxpayer.

A full consultation will take place on the scope and details of the model.