Councillor Donald Crichton, Vice Chairman of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar’s Sustainable Development Committee, has called on the Scottish Government to increase and promote the Crofter Building Grant Scheme in light of statistics that show the grant is under used and that a high number of applications are rejected.
Official statistics obtained from the office of the Croft House Grant and Loan Scheme show that there were 280 applications over the last three years for the grant. While 158 applications were approved 82 were refused. Out of the 82 who were rejected only a quarter, 20 of them, appealed and 14 were successful.
Councillor Crichton said: “These figures confirm our worst fears that the grant is not being utilised and that there is a high proportion of applications being rejected. With up to a third of applications initially rejected, these statistics could be used by some to argue for the discontinuation of the scheme. That would be a detrimental step and be a further blow to rural and crofting communities.
“Over the years, in its different forms, this scheme has been a stimulus for sustaining the population and economy of our crofting communities and providing an excellent opportunity for young people to build their own homes and become actively involved in their communities.”
Mr Crichton concluded: “ I hope that as part of its review of the scheme that the Scottish Government will substantially increase the grant from the present £22,000 to a realistic figure that will address the present day challenges faced by those seeking to build new homes in rural areas. It is also important that the Government actively promotes the scheme and reduces any bureaucracy and red tape that would deter applicants and minimise the number of rejected applications.”