IWA Responds to CRT Above Inflation Increase on Boat Licence Fee26 October 2016
The Canal & River Trust has announced that private and business boat licence fees will rise by 2.5% from 1 April 2017 after having capped licence fees to inflation for the past three years.
According to CRT the rise in licence fees will raise income to ensure that the Trust can continue to sustain the increased spend on waterway maintenance over recent years. Over the past three years the Trust has spent considerably more on caring for the waterways, with the amount spent on maintenance and repair in 2015/16 rising to £128 million, over 15% higher than was expended in 2013/14. In the same period the proportion of income from boaters has reduced from 19.9% to 18.3% of total income.
The Trust is also announcing that, following feedback from boating customers and the boating volunteers who sit on its Navigation Advisory Group (Licensing and Mooring), it will be carrying out a wide-ranging review of the structure of boat licensing fees to help guide potential changes to the structure of licence fees from April 2018. There will be an extended period of engagement and consultation with boating organisations, boat clubs and societies. Individual boaters will also be given the chance to be heard to ensure that any proposals are based on a full understanding of the range of views from across the Trust’s wide range of boating customers. The Trust will announce more information and timelines for the consultation process in due course.
IWA welcomes Canal & River Trust’s announcement that it will consult widely on a review of the structure of boat licensing fees to take effect from April 2018. IWA looks forward to taking part during the engagement and consultation period and will put forward its own proposals as part of the process.
IWA is, however, disappointed by the announcement that CRT will increase licence fees for both pleasure and business craft by 2.5% from 1st April 2017. For the last 3 years, 2014 to 2016, CRT held licence increases at inflation only, using the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) as a guide, and IWA considered that this was a fair and reasonable approach. CPI is currently 1% and IWA considers that an increase of a 2.5% in these uncertain economic times is not fair on boaters. IWA is particularly concerned about the impact the proposals will have on those with business licences, such as trading boats, hire companies and canal societies.
IWA National Chairman Les Etheridge said “No one likes a price increase, but the important point is that the current licence system gets a thorough overhaul to ensure all boaters contribute in a fair and sustainable way to the upkeep of the nation’s waterways without penalising those who play by the rules.” He added “It may be time to consider a radical approach – for example, on the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation, which IWA manages through its subsidiary company Essex Waterways Ltd, there are no boat licence fees, with income from boaters collected through a single mooring fee. That might be hard to achieve on CRT waterways, but we shouldn’t be afraid of looking at new ideas.”