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British Marine has said recent guidance issued by the UK Government confirms that canal boats and other vessels in England are, in its view, eligible for COVID-19 recovery grants.

The Restart Grants were announced earlier this month by Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rushi Sunak, and are issued by local authorities in England.

“This confirmation means that accommodation providers, such as vessels and canal boats, should be eligible for a one-off grant of up to £18,000 to support them throughout the ongoing pandemic and the subsequent restrictions on trading,” British Marine said.

The grant is exclusively for businesses which pay business rates, with the exact value of the grant determined by the businesses’ rateable value:

  1. Businesses occupying hereditaments appearing on the local rating list with a rateable value of exactly £15,000 or under on 1 April 2021 will receive a payment of £8,000.
  2. Businesses occupying hereditaments appearing on the local rating list with a rateable value over £15,000 and less than £51,000 on 1 April 2021 will receive a payment of £12,000.
  3. Businesses occupying hereditaments appearing on the local rating list with a rateable value of exactly £51,000 or over on 1 April 2021 will receive a payment of £18,000.

British Marine advises its members to contact their local authority to discuss their eligibility. Members can also visit British Marine’s COVID-19 microsite for the latest information.

Published in Inland Waterways
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The Royal Yachting Association (RYA) and British Marine have welcomed HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) announcement of a six-month extension to the one-year grace period for Returned Goods Relief (RGR) previously put in place by the British Government.

The news yesterday (Thursday 25 March) extends the grace period for RGR until 30 June 2022 for all goods including recreational craft, regardless of when they left the UK, and follows representations from the RYA and British Marine asking for a three-year transition period.

Both organisations have argued that the one-year grace period effective from the end of the Brexit transition period, in respect of the three-year condition for RGR, was not sufficient — highlighting such issues as pandemic travel restrictions, Schengen Area immigration rules, insurance and the length of the sailing season.

This issue was central to a letter that the RYA and British Marine sent to the chief executive of HMRC in February, calling for a holistic approach to addressing the post-Brexit issues impacting on recreational boat owners and the British leisure marine industry.

Howard Pridding, the RYA’s director of external affairs, said: “The HMRC announcement is timely, as we have seen additional concerns from members about the new restrictions on leaving the UK announced this week.

"We will continue our constructive dialogue with HMRC on all outstanding post-Brexit issues, including the repatriation of boats that have not been in the UK under their current ownership, and look forward to receiving a full response from the HMRC chief executive on the points that we have raised.”

Lesley Robinson, CEO of British Marine, added: “This collaborative work with the RYA shows that together we can better influence matters affecting the leisure marine sector and boaters.

“Whilst we requested and set out a strong case for a three-year RGR transition period, the six-month extension is welcomed.

“However, given the current restrictions on international travel, we hope HMRC will demonstrate flexibility to the extension to allow all UK boat owners to return their boats in a safe weather window. This flexibility would also be welcomed by UK boat retailers and brokers in order to keep fulfilling the rising demand for second-hand boats in the UK.”

Published in Cruising

Demand for boats and other watercraft has grown during COVID-19 restrictions in the UK, according to industry body British Marine.

The rebound last summer — following a dramatic 40% sales slump between March and May 2020 as the first lockdowns were imposed — appears to have been fuelled by a surge in domestic tourism amid curtailments on international travel.

Data from Boats Group shows that overall sales from June to the end of the year grew more than 50% over the same period in 2019.

And some of the biggest gains were in more expensive (>£100,000) boats, which in 2020 enjoyed an 18% rise in unit sales over the previous year.

“Last summer we were seeing evidence and hearing regular news about the staycation effect and boom in sales for leisure marine businesses,” British Marine chief executive Lesley Robinson said.

“However I am delighted that these anecdotal stories are now backed up with the empirical data.”

Following the release of the UK - EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement British Marine and the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) have been working to understand the impact of various aspects of the agreement on both the marine industry and recreational boat owners.

British Marine and the RYA have now received further information from both the EU Commission and the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) on the trade of pre-owned CE marked recreational craft between the UK and EU following the UK’s exit from the European Union.

Both the UK and EU have confirmed that any vessel being traded second-hand between the UK and EU will be required to meet the obligations set out in either the Recreational Craft Directive (RCD) in the EU or the Recreational Craft Regulations (RCR) in the UK when placed on either market after the 1 January 2021.

UK Conformity Assessed

Therefore, this means that a pre-owned vessel being imported from the EU to be placed on the UK market will, after 1 January 2022, be required to obtain a new UK Conformity Assessed (UKCA) mark in line with the requirements of the RCR. In order to obtain a UKCA mark, a boat will require a Post Construction Assessment and third-party verification.

Pre-owned CE marked vessels

Similar rules will apply when selling vessels into the EU. Pre-owned CE marked vessels that were in the UK at the time of departure, 11pm on the 31 December 2020, when exported to the EU will be required to undergo recertification of the CE mark when being placed on the EU market. This means a boat will require a Post Construction Assessment in line with the RCD and third-party verification.

As Afloat reported previously, boat brokerages, distributors, boat owners and buyers may well be heavily affected by this post-Brexit position, as the responsibility will fall upon them to ensure a vessel meets the applicable requirements before buying and selling second-hand boats between the UK and EU. Estimated costs of Post Construction Assessments and verification are between 500-5000 GBP dependent on the vessel.

British Marine and the RYA are currently liaising with the European Boating Industry association in order to raise concerns with this position in Europe whilst also directly engaging with BEIS in the UK.

Lesley Robinson, CEO of British Marine, commented; “As a consequence of Brexit, this is a complex and potentially difficult situation. Faced with the process of individual boat re-certification, boat builders, brokers and consumers will be impacted in terms of both time and cost when selling and buying second-hand boats cross borders. At this stage in time, British Marine is working hard to represent affected members and seek clarification of the exact ramifications of these regulations.”

Howard Pridding, RYA Director of External Affairs, said; “This is yet another unanticipated and unwelcome aspect of Brexit which could affect many owners financially through no fault of their own. We are working in partnership with industry to better understand and mitigate the situation and potential cost burden.”

Published in Marine Trade
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Following the Prime Minister's announcement on Monday 22 February outlining the roadmap of when restrictions are likely to be eased across England, British Marine met with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) to clarify the guidance specific to the leisure marine industry. Representatives from the Department for Transport, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, navigation authorities, and user groups from across the sector also took part in the meeting.

The following statement and matrix (downloadable below) have been produced, and approved by Government, detailing how British Marine members should interpret the guidance:

On 22 February, the Prime Minister announced the Government's roadmap to cautiously ease lockdown restrictions in England. The design of the roadmap has been informed by the latest scientific evidence and seeks a balance between our key social and economic priorities whilst preserving the health and safety of the country. The scientific evidence shows that opening too early or too quickly risks a further lockdown.

The approach focuses on data, not dates. Each step has a "no earlier than" date, five weeks later than the previous step, to allow time to assess the impact of the previous step and provide a week's notice before changes occur. The steps for easing restrictions will be taken at the same time across England in a national approach, in the absence of a significant regional disparity.

At each step, the Government will make an assessment against the following four tests:

  • The vaccine deployment programme continues successfully.
  • Evidence shows vaccines are sufficiently effective in reducing hospitalisations and deaths in those vaccinated.
  • Infection rates do not risk a surge in hospitalisations which would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS.
  • Our assessment of the risks is not fundamentally changed by new Variants of Concern.

From 29 March, as part of the first step, Stay at Home restrictions will be lifted. The Government will continue to advise that people minimise travel up to and including Step 3. This means avoiding making unnecessary journeys, combining trips and avoiding travel at peak times where possible. People should avoid travelling further than is reasonably necessary to take part in their activity - for instance visiting shops or making use of services closer to home.

All references to permitted activities below assume that boats allow for social distancing rules to be adhered to. COVID-Secure guidance will also remain in place up to and including Step 3 (subject to a proposed review of social distancing rules ahead of Step 4).

Premises must not cater for groups larger than the legal limits at each step unless meeting the conditions for a permitted organised gathering. These will be reintroduced at Step 2 for outdoor gatherings and Step 3 for indoor gatherings. These gatherings or events must be operated by a business, charity, public body or similar organisation and can be organised subject to specific conditions: that they comply with COVID-Secure guidance, including taking reasonable steps to limit the risk of transmission, complete a related risk assessment; and ensure that those attending do not mix beyond what is permitted by the social contact limits (unless another exemption exists, such as for organised sport or exercise, supervised activities for children or a significant life event).

Download the matrix of the reopening in the word doc below.

Published in Marine Trade

British Marine and the RYA have written a joint letter to the head of Britain’s HM Revenue & Customs to call for a holistic approach to the various issues facing private pleasure boaters, the second-hand market and the wider industry post-Brexit.

According to Marine Industry News, the letter covers such issues as the ‘VAT trap’ for British boaters, repatriation of vessels as pandemic restrictions continue, and the status of and reporting requirements for boats lying in Northern Ireland waters.

The two organisations are specifically calling for an extension of the one-year grace period for Returned Goods Relief to three years, on account of the various difficulties boaters currently face in regard to moving their vessels around Europe.

Howard Pridding of the RYA said: “Following months of dialogue with officials and exchanges with ministers at HMRC, we are now appealing directly to the chief executive of HMRC to bring coordination to urgently address the outstanding issues and deliver clear and unambiguous guidance that we can share with our members.”

The move comes in the same week that the Cruising Association launched its campaign for a 180-day cruising visa separate from the 90-day Schengen visa system, which would help preserve British cruisers’ traditional routes to the Netherlands, Greece, Spain and Portugal.

Published in Cruising
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Following the announcement of its first-ever National Agenda, British Marine has today (4 February 2020) launched an ambitious plan to drive its vision of a thriving industry delivering amazing on-water experience for everyone.

Unveiled at the British Marine Spring Expo 2020, the exciting plan brings greater clarity and focus to British Marine’s efforts, easily demonstrating to all its members the one-of-a-kind services it offers and how these are harmonised to their activities.

Emphasising on the necessity for a National Agenda, Lesley Robinson, British Marine CEO, commented: “The marine industry in 2020 is facing great changes which require decisive responses. Shifting consumer habits and values, technological advancements and environmental pressures are combining to completely reshape the market as we have experienced it in past decades.

“Disrupted times offer great opportunity, provided you are prepared and bold enough to drive the agenda. That is why we have embraced an ambitious and exciting vision and delivered a bold National Agenda which we see as our pole star for a bright future. It’s a clear declaration of British Marine’s determination to play a significant and measurable role in supporting our members.”

Focusing on each distinct pillar of the National Agenda – Participation, People & Skills, Environment, Technology & Innovation and Representation, the assertive plan presents a deliverable set of key priorities which are being executed instantaneously. It has been crafted by British Marine’s executive team working in close collaboration with elected member representatives.

The exciting priorities outlined in the Agenda include:

  • Powerful insights on how companies can adapt their products and services to changing consumer demands
  • New paths for companies to attract and retain the right people with the right skills sets, as well as enhancing diversity within the workforce
  • Promoting the sustainable operation and development of the marine industry, assisting members as well as their customers with minimising impacts on the environment
  • Enabling greater technological understanding and collaboration, working with members to innovate and use new technology to grow their market
  • Promoting the UK marine industry with external stakeholders to enhance and protect members’ domestic and international profiles, prospects and interests

Annually, the National Agenda will be measured, reported and updated to ensure that the Association’s expert skills and leading resources are directed towards areas of the most value for its members. This is fundamental to the Association’s progressive ‘member first’ mission to deliver outstanding services, representation and products to promote the sustainable success of its members. It guarantees that members are continually placed front and centre of all British Marine’s activities with service that is personalised to needs, easily accessible and always available.

To download a full copy of the British Marine National Agenda here

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Last week brought success for Britain’s thriving marine equipment sector with UK companies picking up a string of accolades and revelling in a flourish of business opportunities at the world’s largest trade marine equipment exhibition, METSTRADE 2019.

The event kicked off with British designed and manufactured products receiving a third of the accolades presented at this year’s DAME Design Awards. Overall, British Marine members dominated the list of companies to be honoured. The latest products from Raymarine UK, Lumishore, Marlow Ropes, Scanstrut and Dometic received Special Mentions, whilst Category Winners included products from LIGNIA Wood Company Ltd, Garmin Europe Ltd and Navico.

Less than 24 hours later, two more UK brands were celebrating wins at the prestigious IBI-METSTRADE Boat Builder Awards 2019. Spirit Yachts’ innovative manufacturing process and yacht designs saw it awarded the best ‘Environmental Initiative’ of 2019 while Princess Yachts’ apprenticeship scheme and leadership pathways received the Best Apprenticeship and Trainee Scheme award.

Throughout the whole three-day event, 155 British companies spread across the exhibition had another fantastic Show with a football of 17,792 unique visitors looking to discover the next generation of product development.

Ranked the second biggest and most popular country pavilion, the British Pavilion was a hive of activity with many of its 60 exhibiting companies reporting business success. At its heart, the British Marine stand was constantly packed with international delegates and members meeting to do deals.

Eifrion Evans, CEO of Lumishore, who had stands in both the British Pavilion and Superyacht Pavilion, commented: “METSTRADE continues to surpass mine and Lumishore’s expectations. The superbly presented British Pavilion and Superyacht Pavilion generated significant interest in Lumishore’s new underwater and newly launched above water lighting range, the Lux Lighting Collection. At times, we were completely inundated with existing and new customers.”

Clay Builder from Nautibuoy Marine, who exhibited in the British cluster within the Superyacht Pavilion, added: “It was the best METSTRADE Show we have ever had. As well as making sales on the stand, we met with key industry people and have generated a huge amount of leads and interest in our range of products. It was super to see the response to our new X-shade, which we officially launched in Amsterdam. Our feeling for business in 2020 is incredibly positive. Thanks to organisers for making it so easy and to the hospitality team who provided us with great food and beverages. We are already excited about attending next year.”

On the Wednesday, British Marine hosted the Netherlands’ Country Director for the Department for International Trade, Michiel Veldhuizen. Whilst at the event, he met with several British Marine members including LIGNIA Wood Company, Marlow Ropes, Scanstrut, Exposure Lights, Crewsaver and Rapid Marine.

This was followed by another hugely successful Meet the Buyer Networking Reception. British Marine’s most popular overseas event and a highlight of the British Pavilion, it once again welcomed 150+ visitors and exhibitors for an evening of networking, drinks and live music.

Lesley Robinson, British Marine CEO, commented: “I am hugely proud of all the UK businesses who picked up accolades at both the DAME Design Awards and IBI-METSTRADE Boat Builder Awards, as well as all the British companies who enjoyed business success at this year’s METSTRADE.

“This is testament to the strength of Britain’s marine industry. Despite the political uncertainty at home, British companies are trading well, investing and planning for the future growth of their businesses.

“As British Marine we will continue to support our members at important overseas events, ensuring the UK retains its dominant position on the global market. Next on the calendar is boot Dusseldorf in January 2020 where we will be hosting a Showcase stand for members.”

Published in Scottish Waters
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Only 22% of marine businesses reported an increase in revenue, 10% less than six months ago and 15% less than the pre-Brexit high five years previous
Just 6% of companies enjoying an increase in profits, 6% less than the previous six months and 23% less than the previous five years
Brexit uncertainty is taking its toll on consumer confidence, industry encouraged to embrace different business models and produce new offerings

New sentiment figures out today from British Marine, the trade association for the UK leisure, superyacht and small commercial marine industry, highlight the number of British marine businesses reporting an increase in revenue sinking to 22%, 10% less than November 2018. The new figures also show static profit margins for marine businesses, with just 6% of companies enjoying an increase in profits, 6% less than November 2018. Unsurprisingly business confidence within the sector is at its lowest level since autumn 2016.[1]

Domestically focused UK businesses, especially marine services, continue to experience flat markets with 7% of companies experiencing an increase in revenue over the last six months. The domestic market has previously benefited from Brexit, with a weaker pound seeing more Brits holidaying at home. However, the continued political uncertainty has started to take its toll on consumer confidence, causing a reduction in leisure spending.

Prices in hire and charter boats have dropped significantly since last summer with only 28% of businesses increasing prices compared to 52% in 2018. With less customers out on the water, businesses are competitively slashing their prices resulting in hire, charter and passenger boat prices dropping to their lowest level in over five years. Whilst hire, charter and passenger boat services saw a rise in the number of businesses reporting increased revenue[2] and profit[3] (following the recent drop in business outlook, revenue and profit sentiment in the summer of 2018) these figures are still in negative net balance.

Meanwhile, brokerages are contending with reduced activity, as well as reduced stock due to value of the pound and low domestic demand. Fleets of boats based in the UK have reduced due to an increase in overseas sales and ‘End of Life’ (when vessels are no longer used or have been abandoned) challenges – while price competition is further driving down sales revenue.

Lesley Robinson, CEO of British Marine, said: “These latest sentiment figures highlight the current risks to the long-term growth of the industry. Whilst Brexit uncertainty and a potential recession are factors completely out of our control, increasing participation is not. It is crucial that the industry turns its focus to attracting new customers both old and young from a variety of backgrounds. Building the future generation of boating enthusiasts is key to the future sustainability of the industry.

“As part of this, the industry needs to adapt to the changing consumer buying habits and embrace new business models that are successfully transforming other sectors. We are working with an array of partners at the Southampton International Boat Show 2019, powered by Borrow a Boat, to incorporate this change. This includes our collaboration with the title sponsor Borrow A Boat to get over 10,000 people out on the water throughout the 10 days of the Show, helping to shape the future of the industry.”

Published in Marine Trade
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Today (Thursday 24 January 2019) marks an 'historic' moment  say industry chiefs for Britain’s marine industry with the launch of Maritime 2050, the UK Government’s first ever long-term strategy to support and grow the sector.

Ironically, the announcement comes when the bulk of the British Marine industry is in Germany at the massive Boot Dusselfdorf exhbibition following the collapse of its own London Boat Show that was cancelled due to lack of interest this month.

Described as both visionary and aspirational, Maritime 2050 highlights the Government’s recognition of the importance of maritime – worth over £40bn to the UK economy, more than aerospace or car manufacturing – and focuses on the desire to cement the UK’s place as the world's leading maritime nation into the second half of the 21st century.

"Maritime 2050 highlights the Government’s recognition of the importance of maritime – worth over £40bn to the UK economy"

Over the last year, British Marine and its maritime counterpart, Maritime UK, has been collaborating closely with government officials to develop this ground-breaking strategy, ensuring it fully addresses the key challenges facing the marine industry. 

This one-of-a-kind piece of work incorporates the full footprint of British Marine’s membership, from manufacturing and services to tourism, setting out a comprehensive roadmap to drive growth for member businesses. 

At the bedrock of Maritime 2050 are seven distinct themes; Technology, Trade, Environment, People & Skills, Infrastructure, Security/Resilience and the UK’s Competitive Advantage. Combined, these deliver a clear direction and vision for the Government and industry to work together to ensure the UK can progressively compete on the global stage in the coming decades. For example:


The Government has committed to work with British Marine and its members to identify, develop and deliver tangible support for the leisure marine, superyacht and small commercial marine industry. This includes looking at the protection of strategic waterfront sites so that the sector has the scope to expand businesses and increase output.

It has also pledged to review any issues which might prevent UK businesses from being competitive in bids for UK-based contracts and if necessary, explore options to provide appropriate support.

People & Skills

The Government will fund the roll out of the ‘people like me’ maritime industry project to help address the image and perception of the industry. Its aim is to promote careers in the industry and ultimately, close the critical skills gap which 30% of marine companies have reported within their businesses.

In addition, officials aim to establish a Maritime Skills Commission, bringing existing leading marine skills experts together to report on the current and future skills needs of the industry. It will inform and improve the maritime training curriculum to ensure it is up-to-date and maintains relevance amid the evolving needs of the sector.


To help business meet the ever increasing need to reduce their environmental footprint, both domestically and internationally, the Government will assess how economic instruments could support the transition to zero emission shipping in the medium to long term. This coincides with British Marine’s continued work with members, regulators and navigation authorities to educate all parties on environmental issues and develop affordable and practical steps businesses can implement to reduce their impact on the planet.


The Government will collaborate closely with industry to increase British exports as a proportion of the UK’s GDP from 30% to 35%. This follows its advancing work with British Marine and other sector bodies to develop a fully funded five-year export strategy that boosts marine exports in existing and new markets.

British Marine’s President, Greg Munford, today joined the Secretary of State for Transport, Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP, and Maritime Minister, Nusrat Ghani MP, along with other senior figures from maritime and a number of marine apprentices, onboard City Cruises’ Millennium Diamond for the launch of the Maritime 2050 strategy.

Greg Munford commented: “British Marine welcomes and supports the Government’s ambitious Maritime 2050 strategy, which makes important recommendations to support and grow the UK’s marine industry.

“We appreciate the hard work done by the officials at the Department for Transport over the past year to better engage with the industry and understand the challenges and opportunities facing our member businesses. We look forward to working alongside our Department for Transport colleagues to implement the commitments set out in Maritime 2050.

“With a key element of the strategy focussed on growing skills and career opportunities across marine and maritime, I am delighted that British Marine members, City Cruises and Berthon, have been able to bring some of their apprentices along today to help showcase the talent already present in our industry.”

Matthew Beckwith, City Cruises’ Operations Director and Chairman of the British Marine Passenger Boat Association added: “We support the Government’s ambitious Maritime 2050 strategy and look forward to working together with all of our strategic partners to continue to promote the UK’s vital waterways for both transport and leisure.

“In particular we are delighted to see a commitment from this Government to tackle the skills deficit across the industry and to support the growth of the tourism sector which makes such a valuable contribution to our visitor economy.” 

Further information about Maritime 2050, click here

Published in Marine Trade
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