The annual increase in boat licence fees for 2020 has been set by the Canal & River Trust at 2.5 percent, but other changes implemented at the same time will include the first stage of a phased introduction of higher charges for wider craft.
The increase, based on a standard inflation index, will see the cost of an annual canals and rivers licence for a typical ‘go anywhere’ 57ft narrowboat rise on 1 April 2020 from £985.79 to £1,010.43. But at the same time, the first of a series of extra increases for widebeam craft (announced following the 2017 licensing review) means owners of craft more than 2.16m (7ft 1in) wide face an additional increase of 5%, bringing the price for a 57ft widebeam up to £1,060.96.
A further increase in 2021 will raise the widebeam surcharge to 10%, and for vessels over 3.24m (10ft 7¾in) wide it will be followed by two further increases, creating a 20% price differential from 2023 onwards. The prices are eligible for a prompt payment discount, currently set at 5%. This is to be halved to 2.5%, but at the same time a new discount of 2.5% for online or direct debit payment will be introduced, so for many boaters the increase will make no overall difference.