CRT boat licence fees will rise in October by an additional 4% on top of the 4% April rise to try to balance the increase in maintenance costs due to 9% plus and rising inflation. They are also cancelling some planned maintenance this winter.
CRT say they will be scaling back on non-essential works and focussing on those which are required legally or which support navigation, making cost saving cuts more generally across the business, scaling back any discretionary activities and seeking to maximise revenue from our other income streams. They blame significant increases in a range of its costs – notably the prices of energy, fuel, materials and other construction costs which are rising by more than headline consumer inflation rates, leading to a projected shortfall in finances. Their Government grant has also been frozen (and hence declining in real terms) until 2027.
CEO Richard Parry said: “This has been a very difficult decision for the Trust. We recognise that our boating customers will be feeling the effect of inflation across their personal finances and a 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, with our Government grant frozen since 2021, and with the combined 2022 licence fee increases remaining lower than the current inflation rate. We continue to prioritise our work to maintain and repair the historic canals and river navigations in our care, doing what we can to reduce spending in other areas and to generate income from other sources where possible.
“Boat licences account for around an eighth (12%) of the charity’s annual income and help ensure that the vast amount of work necessary to keep the waterways available to boaters can be carried out. We will do all we can to support boaters who may be struggling with the cost of living crisis and urge them to contact our boat licensing team so we can agree how we can help them.
The Inland Waterways Association says whilst understanding the extraordinary economic climate that is affecting Canal & River Trust it regrets that this second increase has been carried out without any consultation of users. It also regrets that planned maintenance will be deferred by CRT and believe CRT has not taken full advantage of volunteers to support navigation.