A grant (Croft Housing Grant) for the building of a new house on a croft or the improvement of an existing house is available under certain circumstances, through the Scottish Government’s Rural Payments and Services scheme.
‘Crofting tenure requires crofters to live within 32 kilometres of their croft and provide their own housing – where there is not already adequate housing on the croft.
Due to the nature of crofting as a form of land tenure, and the predominance of self-build as a means to provide housing, it can be challenging for crofters to access conventional forms of housing finance.
Also, crofting areas are often located in the most remote areas of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. This remoteness, together with the challenges of terrain, climate and lack of access to utility services, leads to increased house building and improvement costs.
This Scottish Government-funded arrangement is designed to ease some of this burden and provide grants for crofters to improve and maintain the standards of crofter housing. In doing so it attracts and retains people within the crofting areas of Scotland and helps sustains crofting as a traditional means of land tenure.’
Before applying for this grant, it is important to read the guidance in full as there are different levels of grant, depending on the geographical area and there are strict eligibility rules. For example a project will be deemed ineligible if it has started without prior approval for Croft Housing Grant funding. The guidance provided is extremely comprehensive.
A useful site is Rural Housing Scotland that covers all rural housing, not just croft housing;
'Rural Housing Scotland helps rural communities to take practical action to address local housing needs and build sustainable rural communities. We provide expert support to communities from initial feasibility – helping communities identify the need and develop a solution – through to the construction of affordable homes. We help communities secure affordable housing through community trusts and to work in partnership with government, landowners, and housing associations to deliver more affordable housing options.’
Patrick Krause (SCF) has praise for the Croft House Grant Scheme in the Press and Journal (16 May 2017).
It is also worth looking at the Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust, 'a registered charity set up in 1998 to help rural communities secure long term solutions to their local housing needs'.
The Crofting Agricultural Grant Scheme (CAGS) provides support for capital projects such as the construction of agricultural buildings. The Rural Payments and Services scheme provides detailed eligibility criteria and explains, among other things, the requirement for ‘agricultural justification’ of such improvements. Design and construction standards are provided in the Technical Guidance for the CAGS.
Animal Handling Facilities
The ability to handle stock safely, efficiently and quickly is vitally important to be able to carry out many of the husbandry tasks required of crofters. Hence there is support for the provision of such facilities.
EBLEX Sheep has produced a document, Improving Sheep Handling for Better Returns, which offers advice on both handling sheep with minimum stress for the sheep (and the handler) as well as design of the sheep handling facility.
The National Animal Disease Information Service has produced a document, Safe Cattle Handling, which addresses the design of the facility for the welfare of the animals and for the safety of everybody associated with the task.
As with grants for buildings, grants for capital projects such as animal handling systems must show ‘agricultural justification’, demonstrating how the systems will save or generate income.