Crofting consultation - “Giving little with one hand, taking a lot with other” - says Councillor

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Comhairle nan Eilean Siar’s Vice-Chair of Sustainable Development has welcomed a consultation on the Scottish Government’s Croft House Grant Scheme (CHGS) but says its recommendations fall short of expectations.

Councillor Donald Crichton, Vice Chairman of the Comhairle’s Sustainable Development Committee said: “I welcome the fact that the consultation has been launched at long last but its recommendations fall short of expectations.

“It is disappointing that the Government appear to be giving very little with one hand while taking away a lot with the other. They are proposing a minimal increase in the building grant and cutting the improvement grant substantially.

In my view the Government fails to recognise the differential costs of building a house on the islands compared to the mainland.

“Missing that obvious point doesn’t fill me with confidence that the Minister and her civil servants grasp the real challenges faced in the islands where costs are significantly higher than on the mainland.

“Both the Comhairle and the joint Comhairle / Community Land Scotland Working Group will review this consultation in detail and will be responding to the consultation.

“I hope that our response will influence the Government to recognise the particular issues faced in the Outer Hebrides and to significantly improve their proposals for the Crofter Housing Grant rate as applied to the Outer Hebrides. To that end I would also urge all who have an interest in the future of crofting and a sustainable future for our islands to respond to this consultation which closes on 31 March 2015.”

The scheme provides financial assistance for the improvement and maintenance of crofter housing with the aim of attracting and retaining people in remote areas of the Highlands and Islands.

For the next 12 weeks, the Scottish Government is formally seeking views on the future shape of the scheme and its payment rates.