Defra announced today that its grant to British Waterways next year will be £41.5m.
This is a reduction of £9.8m (or 19%) from the 2010/11 baseline grant of £51.3m.
British Waterways points out that, as this funding from the Government makes up approximately half of the net spend on the waterways, this will translate into an effective cut of resource available of about 12% in 2011/12.
The settlement represents the last annual grant to British Waterways in England and Wales before a longer term contract comes into place in April 2012 when the canals, rivers and docks in its care are expected to be transferred into a new charity.
Defra also indicated that funding from 2012/13 to 2014/15 would be £39m a year, with a long-term commitment that a funding contract running up to at least 2022/23 will not fall below this level.
Tony Hales, BW chairman, said: "In the current climate it would be unrealistic to expect British Waterways to be exempt from cuts in public spending and we will have to make difficult decisions to ensure the continued maintenance of the historic canals and rivers in our care. The Government's commitment to the first ever long-term public funding settlement for the waterways is, however, a good step forward and I have been heartened by ministers' continued commitment to this 'Big Society' flagship.
"Security of funding is fundamental to achieving the Government's objective of establishing a new 'national trust' for the waterways. The challenge now is to develop a funding plan which gives confidence to the incoming trustees of the new charity and retains the support of waterway stakeholders. I firmly believe this can be achieved and, while we would all have hoped for a larger settlement, we are one step closer to turning the long-held vision of a waterways charity into reality."