In spite of extensive efforts by all boater organisations, and even by Canal & River Trust, to get the Minster and senior Government officials in the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (now called Energy Security and Net Zero) to include itinerant boat dwellers in the scheme, we have been specifically excluded. Also excluded are itinerant vehicle and caravan dwellers. The Government web page for the scheme says that the grant is “under review” for both communities, but there is no information on the reasons for the review or how long it will take.
The Energy Bills Support Scheme – Alternative Funding and the Energy Bills Support Scheme – Alternative Funding – Alternative Fuels – grants of £400 and £200 respectively against the cost of living crisis to help with fuel bills – has been open for the UK since the beginning of March.
Boat dwellers eligible for Legal Aid are now in the initial stages of judicial review proceedings against the Government. The NBTA has contacted several law firms in order to signpost people who wish to issue claims. If you are on a low income with less than £8,000 savings, you may be eligible for Legal Aid.
If you wish to take the Government to court, please contact the NBTA for the list of lawyers, or contact Community Law Partnership on 0121 685 8595 (this is a new number). Make sure that you keep a screenshot of the rejection message when the web form on www.gov.uk fails your application. This is your “decision” for judicial review proceedings to take the Government to court. See NBTA guidance on applying here https://www.bargee-traveller.org.uk/itinerant-boat-dwellers-locked-out-of-energy-grants-guidance-on-what-to-do-next/
Meanwhile itinerant liveaboard boaters and others excluded have continued to contact MPs, and MPs have written to the Minister for Energy Security and Net Zero, but have not received any definite information about when the scheme will be open to our communities. See for example this letter from Wera Hobhouse, MP for Bath.
Friends, Families and Travellers are now calling on people to email their MPs to demand that the Government extends the energy bill support to include itinerant liveaboard boaters and Gypsy and Traveller families living on roadside camps, who are still excluded from the grants. This isn’t fair, particularly at a time of a cost-of-living crisis, and it’s really important that MPs hear this.
Click on this link to send a direct message to your MP https://action.gypsy-traveller.org/page/123517/action/1 If you are living nomadically, your MP is the MP for where you are now, or the MP for where you spend the majority of your time if this applies.