More than 18 months on, many boat dwellers have still not been able to obtain the energy support payments which were promised to all households in the UK in 2022. Boat dwellers without a permanent mooring on non-Canal & River Trust waterways, and boat dwellers who legitimately have leisure moorings or ‘high use’ moorings, are still excluded, as are some other groups such as Gypsies and Travellers living on the road. These groups still face a doubling in energy costs with no support.
Boaters in Wiltshire have launched a petition in the next phase of their campaign calling for access to two energy support payments which were promised to all eligible households in the UK.
Please sign and share the petition here https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/get-vital-ps600-energy-bill-support-to-remaining-off-grid-households-currently-excluded-from-support
The group UK Boaters for Energy Justice has been formed, to campaign for all people living on boats inland across the UK to receive two Government energy bill support payments that provided a £600 discount off energy bills over winter 2022 to 2023. .
The Energy Bills Support Scheme was created to give every household across the UK help to address the significant increase in energy prices in 2022, but the above groups remain excluded. The other was a payment towards households using alternative fuels, and both these schemes were non means-tested, meaning everyone who was eligible should have received them no matter their income.
Households on land began automatically receiving £66/67 a month towards electricity bills from October 2022, over a year ago. Various advocacy groups had previously raised concerns that this excluded those who weren’t connected to the electrical grid, including most boat dwellers as well as park home residents and rural households.
The Government opened a second scheme in February 2023 to cover some of the affected off-grid households, but this was only available for the minority of boaters with a permanent residential mooring where Council Tax applies. Campaigning and lobbying by NBTA, Canal & River Trust (CRT), MPs and others resulted in an alternative scheme in September 2023 for itinerant boat dwellers, but only those on CRT waterways.
UK Boaters for Energy Justice is supported by Devizes and District Foodbank, whose staff and volunteers noticed that more boaters were having to come to the food bank than ever before. Alex Montegriffo of the food bank said “We had double the number of referrals for emergency food parcels from boaters in the last seven months. If boaters had been able to access the energy bill support they would have been able to eat and heat their boats properly and not have been forced to the doors of our food bank. Many of the boaters we’ve been supporting were classed as key workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, or are vulnerable and on low incomes. We think there are 6000 boating households across the UK who are missing out on historical energy bill support”. UK Boaters for Energy Justice have written to the Government urging them to take action before the end of winter, and are encouraging signatures to their petition which will be delivered to the Government in May.