The crofting-specific grants, namely the Crofting Counties Agricultural Grant Scheme (CCAGS) and the Croft House Grant Scheme (CHGS) were expected to be extended to owner-occupier crofters by virtue of the Crofting Reform (Scotland) Act 2010.
The former scheme provides grants towards agricultural developments such as sheds, barns, fencing and other permanent improvements; the latter towards the building of a croft house. As one would expect, myriad regulations control the provision of each, but there is little doubt that these grants are still a major draw for those wishing to build croft houses and / or carry on agricultural activities on their crofts. Before 2010, it was the case that both types of grant assistance ceased to be available to owner-occupier crofters, and therefore this was a major reason to remain a tenant crofter.
The Crofting Reform (Scotland) Act 2010 was intended to equalise owner-occupier crofters and tenant crofters, both in terms of the regulatory framework to which they were subject, and also the financial assistance which was available to them. However, the regulations which are required in order to facilitate the extension of financial assistance to owner-occupier crofters have only been passed in respect of the CCAGS, not in respect of the CHGS.
I approached the Scottish Government for a comment on this matter and received the following statement:-
It is the Scottish Government’s intention that the CHGS scheme should accurately reflect the equality intention of the primary legislation, which would mean making CHGS assistance equally available to both tenant and owner-occupier crofters, irrespective of who the croft had been bought from and the length of time the croft house site had been the private property of the crofter. In order to do this, the Scottish Government is required to amend the CHGS regulations through the Scottish Parliament. This is under active consideration and, following the Parliamentary process, the scheme would then apply equally to all.
The effect of the current lack of new CHGS regulations is that for crofters who purchased a short time ago, or who have not yet purchased their crofts, must hope that the regulations are indeed passed before the 7 year period expires. That may not happen. Furthermore, crofters who purchased their croft in the mid-noughties are increasingly likely to run out of time.