NBTA statement on the outcome of CRT review of boat licensing

The NBTA welcomes the decision not to increase licence fees for boats without a home mooring, announced by Canal & River Trust (CRT) on Tuesday 6th March 2018. We oppose the fee increases for widebeams and the reductions in the prompt payment discount. The NBTA will do all it can to defend the boaters affected by these increases, which will result in more boat dwellers struggling to pay the licence fee, more boats becoming unlicensed and more people losing their homes.

The NBTA condemns the threat made by CRT in its consultation report that “a further review will be undertaken to establish how the significant growth in demand from boats without a home mooring in key locations can be addressed, to fairly reflect the benefit experienced by those boaters without a home mooring in London and other highly popular locations”.

This is an unfair and discriminatory attack on Bargee Travellers. We remind CRT of the legal advice that led to the charity abandoning the Roving Mooring Permit scheme in 2014. Applying different conditions to boats without a home mooring in specific areas would fall foul of the same advice: that if a service or benefit is not available to boaters throughout the CRT waterways, or if the service or benefit is denied to boaters in specific areas, the scheme is unlawful. There is no statutory basis for CRT to introduce differential pricing between boats with and without a home mooring, or for boats used in ‘popular’ waterway areas.

The Prompt Payment Discount will be reduced from 10% to 5% or 2.5% depending on how you pay, with only those who licence their boats online using automatic payment methods being eligible for the 5% discount. Licence fees for widebeams will increase by between 10% and 20% over 3 years, depending on the beam of the boat. The NBTA believes that linking the prompt payment discount to online automatic payment methods will disadvantage poorer and older boaters and that charging more for wider boats when so much of the network can only be used by narrowboats will make licensing more unfair.

When CRT announced the licence review it said that changes would be “cost neutral”. CRT’s “cost neutral” review has resulted in prices going up. The NBTA is asking its members if they agree with these changes and what action should be taken.

CRT’s reports on the consultation can be downloaded here: