2015-04-07  

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Croft House Grant Scheme Rates Must Rise

NFU Scotland has called for grant rates available to build or renovate croft houses to be raised to a realistic economic level.

In responding to the Scottish Government’s review of the Croft House Grant Scheme, the Union recognised the valuable support that it gives in ensuring crofters continue to live and work on or near their crofts.

Croft House

photo: croftinglawblog

However, the Union points out that in the current economic climate, the existing grant rates failed to stimulate or incentivise investment in croft housing.

The Union has also urged the Scottish Government to retain three geographical priority regions rather than its proposal of moving to two. The proposal to base rates on whether a croft is located on an island or on the mainland is too basic and would fail to address the costs that can be associated with building in the more remote areas of the mainland. This is recognised in current grant scheme rules.

Commenting on the Union’s submission, Caithness crofter Sandy Murray, who chairs NFU Scotland’s Crofting, Highlands & Islands Working Group said:
“Affordable housing for crofters and their families is fundamental in terms of ensuring that croft land is actively managed and utilised and that crofting is sustained into the future.
“The Croft House Grant Scheme has a vital role in ensuring that crofters can live and work on or near their crofts but given its importance, we need the scheme to be fit for purpose and reflect the current costs associated with building work.

“We have had concerns for some time that the existing rates of grant have been insufficient in the current economic climate to significantly incentivise crofters to undertake new builds or renovations.

“We also have worries that the Scottish Government proposal of moving to two geographical areas for eligibility would fail to recognise that there are remote areas of mainland Scotland that can be as disadvantaged in terms of high transport costs and lack of suppliers and contractors as some of the island communities.

“For this reason we believe that the current three Geographical Priority Areas should be maintained, recognising the additional costs of building on the islands or in remote areas. Crucially, whether the croft house is located on an island, a remote part of the mainland or other mainland areas, all grant rates in each priority area must be significantly higher in order to encourage and assist crofters to invest.”

NFUS

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