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Upper Tribunal judgement confirms Housing Benefit for boat licence fees

PandaNBTA
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National Bargee Travellers Association, Reading

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Joined: 7 August 2012

HB Anorak
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Benefits consultant/trainer - hbanorak.co.uk, East London

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Thanks for posting.  Interesting decision.  This one has been see-sawing back and forth for years but that looks like the final definitive word on the matter now:  12(1)(f) - meh, no not really; 12(1)(d) - absolutely not, entirely different meaning; 12(1)(b) - absolutely yes.  Love the fun fact that water is land!

Just out of interest by the way: presumably constant cruisers have to pay mooring fees as well if they stay at a pukka mooring?  The cruising licence doesn’t allow them to rock up anywhere and use water, electric etc for free does it?  So this case was about the additional amount payable for the licence, on top of the fees payable to whoever owns any serviced moorings you might use?  But the licence would allow you to just drop anchor somewhere out on the canal and stay there a while, even though there isn’t any organised facilities at that location - right?

PandaNBTA
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Hi HB Anorak,

The boat licence without a permanent mooring entitles you to moor on the towpath on Canal & River Trust waterways continuously in any one place for 14 days or such longer period as is reasonable in the circumstances.

On other waterways that are natural or canalised rivers there is a Public Right of Navigation (PRN) that includes the right to moor for a reasonable time in the course of navigation. Landowners do charge for overnight mooring on rivers but not all of them do, and it is arguably contrary to the PRN - and people frequently moor at places where there are signs advertising a charge and don’t get charged, or just don’t pay.

Water, sewage disposal and rubbish disposal are available at intervals (half a day’s cruising maybe on average) provided free of charge by most navigation authorities. Where these facilities are scarce sometimes you can pay a small fee to use facilities in a marina etc. You only get electric if you pay for it and it’s not usually available at short term moorings or on the towpath, though there have been moves in London to install more electricity hook ups on the towpath but these will be expensive and many boats don’t have the equipment to use them effectively. This effort has been led by an anti-boater element in a certain London Borough, but they failed to properly appreciate the impracticality of using electricity on boats for cooking and heating. Most boats that have 240v electric hook up only use it to charge batteries and for lighting/ charging small devices and maybe some kitchen equipment. And power tools. If you don’t live on a boat you have no idea how often it comes in handy to be able to run noisy power tools for an unlimited time!

So you only need to pay a mooring fee on top of the boat licence / registration fee if you want to stay put by choice (as opposed to because of unforeseen circumstances) for longer than 14 days or longer than a ‘reasonable time’. If you live aboard and pay a mooring fee as well as a boat licence, you can get HB/ UC for the mooring fee (Reg 12(1)(f) of the HB regs is “mooring fees payable for a houseboat”. Some in this situation had recently had their HB for their licence fee stopped (maybe on review) or refused, while continuing to get the HB for the mooring fee.

You can often rent a mooring in a marina or on a waterway for a short period eg 6 weeks or so; there are a lot of winter moorings run by either private marinas etc or Canal & River Trust (November to March) or you can rent a permanent mooring if you don’t want to move your boat at all or you want the security of it being looked after (usually leisure boaters as if you live aboard your living on it is the security). You can get HB (and presumably UC) for the winter mooring fee but I’m not sure if anything shorter term would qualify as a periodic payment.

Hope that answers your question. We will be re-writing our briefing note on HB/UC so happy to send you a copy.

[ Edited: 30 Jun 2020 at 04:28 pm by PandaNBTA ]
HB Anorak
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Benefits consultant/trainer - hbanorak.co.uk, East London

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Thanks, that’s really useful and yes please I would love a copy of the new briefing note.