There is good news and bad news from BW on next year's boat licence fees. The good news is that there is to be no increase in the basic cost of a licence. Given the experience of the past few years this in itself is quite remarkable.
But there is bad news as well. Firstly, BW reminds us that VAT will revert from 15% to 17.5% in January. Simon Salem, Marketing Director, seems to think that this will result in an automatic 2.5% uplift in the cost of a licence, but the maths are actually a bit more complicated than that; nevertheless a few seconds with a calculator showed me that in the case of my £602.64 annual fee the change in VAT will bring about only a 2.1% rise.
Further bad news is that BW is mucking about with the prompt payment discount. Apparently, the surcharge for late payment has been so successful that BW no longer feel the need to offer such a great incentive for paying early!
From August 2010, the 10% prompt payment discount will be linked to an online payment discount. The discount for prompt payment will reduce to 5% in August 2010 and 3% in April 2011 whilst a new online payment discount on 3% will be introduced. This means that for someone paying both promptly and on line the discount will reduce to 8% from next August and 6% from 2011. From April 2012 there is to be a further reduction to either 3% for prompt payment OR 5% for payment on-line. Finally a surcharge of £7.50 will be added for payment by credit (but not debit) cards. I ought to say that at the moment this is supposedly a "consultation" and if I'm not explaining it sufficiently clearly, you can read the original here.
All in all I think there is more good news than bad. For a 15.4m narrowboat such as Starcross I reckon that assuming I continue to pay promptly and on-line my licence fee when I renew next October will increase by 4.5% which isn't quite "no increase" but a lot better than in recent years.