THE amount of money Staffin residents could access when building a new house on croft ground could increase – but only if they make their voices heard.
The Scottish Government’s Croft House Grant Scheme (CHGS) currently offers a a maximum £17,000 grant to people looking to build a new home or repair a croft house in the community.
However, the grant has remained static for a decade despite inflation and increased construction prices.
The government has now launched a 12-week national consultation into the key grant scheme, which is aimed at retaining and attracting people in crofting communities like Staffin, with a view to assessing the payment rates and how it might run in the future.
Crofting Minister Dr Aileen McLeod urged people living in the Crofting Counties to make their views known. “The CHGS launched 10 years ago and although building costs have gone up, the assistance rates we are able to contribute have not,” she said. “While I am sympathetic to the case for increasing the size of grants on offer I need evidence to make a decision that will benefit our remote and rural communities. That is why it is so important for as many people as possible to respond to this consultation.”
“By law, crofters have to live on or close to their croft which can present challenges in terms of availability and quality of suitable housing.”
The crofting housing grant has been of benefit to Staffin individuals and families in the past in helping towards the cost of a new build, particularly in the absence of new affordable housing developments in the district, a situation the Staffin Trust is actively looking to remedy in partnership with public sector organisations.
The Staffin Trust will be making a formal contribution to the consultation and highlighting the demand in the area as evidenced in its major housing needs report, which was published in 2014. Anybody wishing to contribute to the consultation can do via http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2015/01/4893