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‘Comprehensive funding review’ called for after only 18 houses built in Western Isles through Croft House Grant scheme

Airidh a' Bhruaich, Isle of Lewis - Image credit: Seán Ó Domhnaill via Flickr

‘Comprehensive funding review’ called for after only 18 houses built in Western Isles through Croft House Grant scheme

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar is calling for a review of funding for island housing after only 18 houses were built in the Western Isles in 2018-19 through the Croft House Grant scheme.

The Croft House Grant scheme provides funding for crofters to build or improve housing, due to the nature of the crofting tenure making it difficult for them to access conventional property finance.

The aim of the scheme is to attract and retain people within the crofting areas of Scotland.

But following confirmation of the low numbers of houses built, Councillor Donald Crichton, chair of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar’s joint consultative committee on crofting, has called for a comprehensive funding review to look at how to better integrate the scheme into the local housing strategy.

At a meeting of comhairle’s crofting committee on Monday, Crichton said: “The 18 new homes built under the Crofter Housing Grant Scheme [sic] in the past year are obviously welcome. 

“It is disappointing, however, that the total budget for croft house building has diminished to such a level that only 18 house were built in one of the main crofting areas.

“Building new homes through the Crofter Housing Grant Scheme is one of the most effective and efficient way to build new homes in areas such as the Outer Hebrides. 

“I believe it is critical that the scheme is considered more broadly and becomes more integrated into the local housing strategy and becomes complimentary to the affordable housing programme.

“The Outer Hebrides presently have an unprecedented level of funding being invested through the affordable housing programme, but the linkages and complementarities between that programme and the Crofter Housing Grant Scheme appear limited. 

“The two investment funds are in their own silos and there is little joined-up thinking as to how the two funds could work together to maximise opportunities.

“I believe there is a need for a comprehensive funding review that links local housing strategies with the Crofter Housing Grant Scheme as well as the affordable housing programme.”

Crichton urged the Scottish Government to consider these links when it designed future housing investment programmes so that they would meet the demand for land and provide the best funding package to address housing needs for the community, in particular, for young people. 

He also called on the Scottish Government to conclude its review of the loan element of the Croft House Grant “without further delay” and reintroduce the loan part of the scheme.

Crichton added: “It is clear that the Crofter Housing Grant Scheme is not delivering what it should and I believe that a properly funded scheme could release investment and land for building in our rural community on an unprecedented scale.”

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