Friday, 23 April 2010

More Smoke and Mirrors

In a previous post I commented on my and others' doubts about whether the proposed BW move to the Third Sector was any real financial solution to their problems. I said I'd ask BW. Well they have answered, well sort of...

I decided on applying the FOI act to ask for a copy of Robin Evan's Board report on the subject, through the website. It seems others had the same idea and it also seems someone raised the same question at BWAF.

It now seems that the reply I have been offered is in fact BW's latest public briefing document on the matter. What also seems clear that BW are not prepared to disclose the original board paper to anyone. Passing over the question about what was in the January Board paper that they don't want to disclose to us, you can see the latest BW thinking on the whatdotheyknow site link above.

What the paper the have offered instead seems to reveal conclusively, is that even on BW's most optimistic projections, this not going to earn them money in the short term.

The final table in their presentation is most interesting to me. If I read it right, it tells us that there will be no net financial benefit for the first five years of the plan. In fact most of the charitable and subscription donations BW would like to receive in the first five years will not go to the waterways but will instead go into new jobs and set up costs for whoever gets to run this bit of the new structure. That doesn't seem to be a route by which anyone is going to breach BW's current funding gap?

Go out to the ten year projection then it seems to indicate that in year ten a third of the money being donated is still going into the admin and only a net £6.3 M to the waterways.

The thing I find most curious that BW seem to rely on in the projection are their figures for voluntary giving to BW. I wonder how motivated potential new supporters will be if they realise that the first four years plus of their donations will be spent to set up the Trust, and none of the money will actually be going back to the waterways during this time?

I am particularly curious to know how the IWA see this direct competitor to their fundraising efforts. Or maybe this is the start of a IWA/BW merger?

Whatever conspiracies one wants to create, the fact is, even on BW's own figures, this is not going to offer anything towards the BW funding gap for five years.

The final table seems to say that if we the public give BW £6.5 M over the first five years of this model only £1.2 M will come to that waterways and that only in year five assuming everything in the previous four years goes to plan. I don't find this very convincing myself!

Robins Evan's basic salary and benefits last year were a tad over £230 000. If one sacked Robin and gave him a year's salary to go, over the next five years that would save BW just shy of £1M pounds. Cull a few more overpaid directors and we'll be just as well off financially as if we believe this load of smoke and mirrors.

So do we believe the latest spin or shall we instead sack the bloke who's led BW into this mess and let someone else have a go?  I know which option I prefer the sound of !

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