THE Canal & River Trust is confirming an increase of 6% in boat licence fees from 1st April 2024 for both private boat owners and boating businesses.
The rise is based on the latest Bank of England forecasts that inflation will remain at around 4.5% through until April 2024.
The surcharges for boats without a home mooring and wide beam boats, and changes to the prompt and online payment discounts, announced on 4th October, will be applied in addition to this rise.
Plus 25% on top of that as a surcharge for boats without a home mooring and wide beam boats, with all boats having an above-inflation increase in each of the next five years.
Boaters can use a new online calculator on the Trust’s website to calculate what the licence fee will be for their boats: licensing.canalrivertrust.org.uk/LicencePrices.
Richard Parry, Chief Executive at Canal & River Trust, tells:
“The recent years have been a challenge for organisations and individuals alike. We know that the cost-of-living crisis will have affected many boaters and we have thought long and hard about the licence fee rises we are introducing. There is support available for boaters, and we urge people who are struggling to get in touch with our team.
“The Trust has been heavily impacted by the adverse economic environment. Over the past few years, we’ve faced significant increases in a range of our costs, notably the prices of energy, fuel, materials, and other construction demands. Meanwhile our government grant is reducing in real terms and is due to be cut sharply after 2027, unless our Keep Canals Alive campaign and the multi-organisation Fund Britain’s Waterways campaign persuade government to revisit its decision. We must act now to plug the funding gap, or we risk seeing canals decline and, ultimately, the risk of closures.
“We’ll continue to secure as much income as we can through our commercial and charitable activities and focus our resources on those priority works which are required to support navigation, and on controlling our costs where possible. The 2,000 miles of waterways that we care for comprise 10,000 assets and structures, many of which are up to 250 years old, and they are vulnerable to the extreme weather events that are becoming more common. We are continuing to invest in an extensive ongoing programme of works that will safeguard the future of boating on the inland waterways.”
Accounts for 11%
The cost of the licence, it is told, which accounts for around 11% of the trust’s income, has largely kept pace with inflation since the charity was formed. Whilst this is a valuable component of the trust’s income stream, boaters will not be expected to bear the full brunt of the funding shortfall but will have to make some contribution. The Trust is also working to generate more income from its property and non-property endowment, and from other commercial sources such as hosting utilities and water transfer.
A step-change in income generation from towpath users and other supporters is targeted, with fundraising income projected to grow by 10% each year—whilst other commercial waterways income, including from anglers, paddle sports and moorings, is also set to increase.
The Gold Licence charges, agreed with the Environment Agency, will increase by 10% from 1st January 2024. This reflects the higher increases applied to fees in 2023. The surcharge for boats without a home mooring will be applied to Gold Licences from 1st January 2025. The additional wide beam surcharge is not applied to the Gold Licence as it already factors in a charge for wider boats.
Struggling to pay
The Trust will continue to support boaters who may be struggling to pay their licence fees on a case-by-case basis. This may include arranging flexible payment plans and signposting to relevant services, for example the Waterways Chaplaincy, local authorities and Citizens Advice.