At a presentation to the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Waterways, which took place on 8 June 2021, we set out our role in meeting the needs of liveaboard boaters and highlighted areas where more support from Government and other public bodies would be beneficial.
Matthew Symonds, our national boating manager, explained the history of people working and living on boats, the reasons why people chose to live afloat today and how this has evolved, and the growing number of people now living on boats, particularly in London. Over the past ten years, our annual boater survey has recoreded the proportion of people living aboard boats increasing from 15% in 2011 to 27% in 2020, with overall boat numbers also rising.
Key areas for improved support
The All-Party Parliamentary Group asked speakers to identify areas where the Government could provide more support for those living on the waterways. We highlighted the need for accurate capturing of boaters' data as the Census does not currently separate out boaters from other travellers; to ensure public services are available to liveaboard boaters and that service providers understand their needs; and to provide support for navigation authorities and boaters to adapt to reduce emissions from boat use to support Government net zero carbon targets.
There was a call to examine why the planning system made it difficult to create permanent residential moorings, and it was suggested that the Association of Inland Navigation Authorities could help coordinate better information to help planning authorities consider residential moorings in a more positive light. Additional support to establish more boater self-managed moorings was also requested.
Matthew Symonds said, “Liveaboard boaters are an integral part of the boating community and have been on the water in various guises for hundreds of years. While many boaters report benefits from living on the water, close to nature and in an often tight-knit community, the lifestyle presents some unique challenges. Whilst the Trust is doing what we can to respond to the growth in the numbers of people living afloat, it is also important that local and national government understands their needs and act to meet them.”