In a landmark judgement issued on 25th June 2020 (AB v London Borough of Camden (HB)  UKUT 158 (AAC)), the Upper Tribunal has confirmed that Housing Benefit is payable for boat licence fees because the boat licence fee if living aboard is rent.
One in five of the UK population live below the poverty line and, of course, this includes boaters. If you are experiencing hard times and could do with some help getting through it, help may be available.
West Berks Food Bank recently helped a boater in food crisis in Hungerford. It made them aware that there might be a greater need amongst boaters on the Kennet & Avon Canal.
In order to get help, ring the Crisis Help Line 01635 760560, open from 08.30 to 18.30. After answering a few questions about your situation you will then be given the information to access the nearest Foodbank and receive help.
They have 4 distribution centres on the Eastern end of the Kennet and Avon, opening hours are;
Thatcham Baptist Church – Monday 1-3pm, Thursday 1-3pm
Newbury Salvation Army Citadel – Tuesday 1-3pm, Friday 1-3pm
Hungerford Methodist Church – Wednesday 1-3pm
Lambourn RC Church – Monday 1.30 – 3.30pm
More information can be found on the West Berks Food Bank website: westberks.foodbank.org.uk
Of course, if you don’t need their service you may be able to help in some way, further details of how you can get involved are here; westberks.foodbank.org.uk/give-help/
The Gypsy, Traveller, Boater & Roma Community Support Service in BaNES, run by Julian House, is on Facebook here https://www.facebook.com/GRTBSupport
One of the issues raised in the Boaters Voices project last year was the difficulty faced by boaters without home moorings in getting the concessionary bus pass that pensioners and disabled people are entitled to. The barrier faced by liveaboard pensioners was that the Councils that administer the concessionary travel scheme would not accept a Poste Restante address or provide a bus pass to someone with no address at all. This was pursued with Wiltshire Council. BaNES Council is also reviewing its procedures for applying for the bus pass.
Bath and NE Somerset Council want to hear from liveaboard boaters on the Kennet and Avon Canal and the River Avon. If you live on your boat without a home mooring, and spend some of your time between Dundas and Hanham, or if you live on a mooring in this area, the Council wants you to tell them about your needs and requirements. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org by March 28th 2013.
If you live on your boat, and your income and savings are low, you are eligible for Housing Benefit. You can claim Housing Benefit to cover the cost of the boat licence, boat safety certificate and third-party insurance. If you have a mooring and/or if you rent your boat, Housing Benefit will cover the cost of the mooring fee and rent up to certain limits.
This week Wiltshire Council tried to close the Housing Benefit claims of a number of boaters who live on non-residential moorings. The Council officers in question were unaware of case law from 2006 that confirms that Housing Benefit is payable even when the claimant’s occupation of their home is unlawful or does not have planning permission for residential use.