A protest flotilla of canal boats from Braunston to London will set off on 27th May 2023 (postponed from 22nd May) in protest at the continued exclusion of itinerant boat dwellers and some others from receiving the £400 Government Energy Bills Support Scheme (EBSS) and £200 Alternative Fuels grants, which the Government claims are paid to “every household” in the UK.
The Department of Energy Security and Net Zero (ESNZ) has cited concerns about fraud for those who cannot prove a fixed address to explain the exclusion of itinerant communities, and some on moorings, from the scheme. However, in Autumn 2022 the Government automatically paid multiple EBSS grants to second home owners for each of their homes, with no scrutiny whatsoever, even though each household is only entitled to receive the grant once.
The flotilla is organised by Anita Weedy, who lives aboard her electric narrowboat Watt Way. Anita says that the continued denial of the grant to many boat dwellers is unfair, and calls on people to join in the protest either on their boats, walking or cycling for all or part of the journey.
The increased cost of food and fuel has placed a greater financial burden on the living expenses of people on some of the lowest incomes in the country. A petition started by the NBTA has been signed by over 5000 people so far.
NBTA Chair Pamela Smith said “The Energy Bills Support Scheme was announced almost a year ago, supposedly to mitigate the worst excesses of the cost-of-living and fuel crises for every single household, and yet after months of campaigns and appeals by itinerant communities for inclusion, the Government has not only failed to deliver this much-needed support to boaters but has specifically excluded us from the payments”.
“Many boat dwellers are still facing massive financial hardships to keep up with the rising cost of fuel. It is deeply unfair, with our community being left out of what was supposed to be a universal scheme while second home owners benefited twice over”.
The boats will travel for 3 hours per day, handing out leaflets and gathering petition signatures. Join them at Braunston or along the way. They will be handing the petition in to the Government once they reach London. For more information, and to join the flotilla, see https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100092315806682 and https://t.co/DdROUx0P9f