"It's disgusting" – Narrowboat owners hit by second hike in licence fees this year

Narrowboat owners are facing a tough winter following a second hike in licence fees this year.

Dawn Edge from Rugeley with her boat. Dawn will be hit with increased licence fees come October.
Dawn Edge from Rugeley with her boat. Dawn will be hit with increased licence fees come October.

The Canal & River Trust (CRT) has announced a four per cent increase in licence fees in October, just months after another four per cent increase in April.

A licence is required for all vessels using the canals and rivers in the UK, with the average cost of a boat licence coming in at £823.68 each year.

The four per cent rise in October will see the average boat-owner pay an additional £33, and for many boat-owners, the timing of the rise means facing a combined eight per cent increase of around £65.

Dawn Edge, a 52-year-old hairdresser from Rugeley, is "disgusted" by the rise in fees and believes the CRT is not doing enough to maintain the canals for boat users.

Speaking on the four per cent hike, Dawn said: "It's disgusting really. Especially with the rising costs of heating and diesel.

"The CRT is having money off us but we're not seeing any money coming back into the canals. It's supposed to be charity-run but it's not going back into the system.

"The CRT is incapable of running it. They can't look after it.

"The signs are everywhere, throughout the whole system. You see them doing work, but it's just patching things up, it's not full work.

"Signs are being replaced with the wrong spelling or wrong information, so more money is being wasted.

"There's no grass cutting being done or maintenance work - you can't see where you're stepping.

"Sanitary stations are closing and the ones that are open are just not clean so you can't have showers.

"And locks and canals are not being maintained so the canal ends up with stoppages and there are canal closures.

"There's nowhere to go. They really don’t want boats just walkers or cyclists."

Licence fees account for around 12 per cent of the Trust's income. The CRT has said the price hike is coupled with a reduction in non-essential work and an attempt to maximise revenue from other income streams.

Richard Parry, chief executive at CRT, said: "This has been a very difficult decision for the Trust. We recognise our boating customers will be feeling the effect of inflation across their personal finances and the mid-year price increase will not be welcomed.

"But the highest levels of inflation in 40 years cannot be ignored and we are compelled to take steps to reduce the budget shortfall we now face."

Licence fees are subject to annual increases, usually of around two percent and government funding for the CRT has been frozen since 2021.

The CRT has said they are intending to keep the situation under active review, seeking to balance the impact of pressures facing the Trust's finances.

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