The Glide Path

With some confusion and a seeming lack of wide alarm at a 5% rising to 25% surcharge on the licence fees of boats without a home mooring, CRT’s ‘glide path’, which introduces incremental and differential licence pricing between now and 2028, could well be intentionally deceptive.

Firstly, boaters without a home mooring will see a first year 5% rise from April 2024 on top of planned increases to the standard licence, which has already risen by 18% in the two years from 2022-24. This year, the fee for a ‘standard licence’ (a narrowboat on a home mooring) rose by 6%. With 5% added, plus an additional penalty for wider boats, the increase this year will see a jump above base rate of 11% for narrowboats without a home mooring, 25% for 10ft widebeams and 39% for 14ft widebeams. In year one, many boats will already experience a cost rise above 25%.

Secondly, it is important to understand that the most cautious estimate for narrowboats with home moorings by CPI (consumer price index) estimated at around 4% plus 1.5% for the next five years will see the standard licence rise by 31% in 2028. That’s before any surcharge.

CRT has admitted its aim is to raise revenue from licence fees by an average of CPI plus 3%, however they also decided the bulk of this increase should fall on boats without a home mooring and widebeams in Bands 2 and 3.

With 25% added to the expected 31% rise in the standard fee, then factoring inflation and further penalties on wider boats, a narrowboat without a home mooring can expect a minimum fee rise of 61% above base rate by 2028. That’s 97% for a 10ft widebeam and 130% for a 14ft widebeam (most likely closest to the CPI +3% average). These figures are minimum estimates.

Previously published tariffs that enabled boaters to budget for price rises have been replaced by online calculators, which individualise and obscure costs. CRT also only gives projections for the next 5 years (2023-2028). It has stated elsewhere that it has a 10-year financial plan. It may continue to increase the percentage from 2028. In 2022, it increased licence fees twice in a year . It could make its own increase larger, and inflation could be more. We have no way of knowing exact CPI figures. CRT uses the government published CPI from November of the previous year, then adds an additional % increase, which is currently (in 2024) 1.5% totalling a 6% increase for a standard licence in 2024. For estimates, we used 4% CPI plus 1.5% added by CRT for years 2,3,4 & 5.

If CRT manages to extort the surcharge on boats without a home mooring this year, the future looks increasingly unpredictable and financially insecure. As boaters within a smaller community, we have the potential to organise and fight back. This reality check ought to encourage everyone to play their part.

More reasons to oppose the surcharge are here:

A licence strike campaign group has formed and proposes strike action. If you don’t have a home mooring and you are interested in a licence strike, you can click here: