Wednesday 7 December 2011

How much do boat owners contribute to British Waterways' property income?

I don't know the answer to this question though I have wondered from some time. When I had my NABO hat on in the last few days the question of how much boaters already contribute financially to the waterways was in my mind. So now I have asked.

What I do notice is that when asked questions about how much boaters contribute financially to BW, the figures referred to are usually based only on the direct income that boaters contribute to BW as per the Annual Report and accounts.
  • Boat licence income - 17.4M
  • BW moorings - 6.3 M
  • BWML total income - 6.6M
(Source Page 31 in BW 2010/11 Accounts)

So direct income from boaters last year was £30.3 million or 17.2% of BW's gross income. These are direct payments from boaters but what about the indirect payments that boaters make to those waterside businesses that in turn BW get a cut from?

It will be interesting to see the numbers and understand better how much of BW's commercial income from property is in fact derived indirectly from boaters pockets.

(Old rant about where my mooring fees do and don't go) 

Addendum - 22 January 2012 - As anyone who has used the link to my FOI on this will see, BW has answered and say that an additional £4.7M of their annual income comes from businesses whose primary customers are boaters. Add this to the the figures above and we have confirmation that Boaters provide at least 20% of BW's annual income worth around £35 million pa at last year's rates.


  1. Good question Simon.

    Are you able to extrapolate from the NABO surveys what the average boater spends during a typical years cruising (and maintaining the boat)?

    The answer to this is not particularly related to BW/CRT income but I think it could be very useful. For example, when combined with figures that I know are available from BW, that is, the number of boats that pass through key points on the waterways, it could serve as an indicator of how economically important boating trade is to local communities.

  2. Hi Will. The NABO cost of boating survey this year came out with an average annual expenditure of £4207. So if you simply multiply by 30,000 boats you get to £126 million pa. That of course includes mooring fees and licences paid direct to BW. You can see what costs we counted in and out at:

    Its worth noting that these are direct boating costs. Add to this money on pub food, beer etc...