As the Budget 2009 is announced, British Waterways (BW) is told it will retain full control of its property portfolio, together with the income it generates

British Waterways (BW) will retain full control of its property portfolio, together with the income that it generates, following a Government review of spending.

In today’s Budget – thought to be the worse since the Second World War – Alistair Darling announced efficiency savings of up to £15 billion. Aside from savings the Government says it also wants to make best use of its assets, including BW’s property portfolio.

The news comes after a year-long review into Government spending in the public sector known as the Operational Efficiency Programme (OEP). According to the findings of the OEP review there is, “potential for the Government to realise greater value from its commercial asset base,” which includes the BW property estate.

The properties, which generate a huge amount of funding for waterway maintenance, will continue to be managed by BW. However, a separate company will now be set up to manage the properties, which will be wholly owned by BW and which HM Treasury says will enable it to be run more efficiently, generating optimum revenue.

BW welcomed the news, Robin Evans, chief executive of BW said, “In the last decade canalside property has produced the largest source of commercial funding for our historic canals, rivers and docks. This decision underlines the Government’s commitment to the long-term future of the waterways.”

A spokesperson for HM Treasury said there were no plans to sell off the property portfolio in the foreseeable future.

Caption: The Interchange Building in Camden, London, which generates about as much revenue for waterways maintenance as the financial contribution of all the boats in London.