Crofters have been urged to respond to a government consultation over the future of the Croft House Grant Scheme (CHGS).
Views are sought on the future shape of the scheme, which provides funding to help improve and maintain crofter housing, as well as its future payment rates.
“Crofting is vital to communities, the economy and the environment in Scotland’s remote and fragile areas, and generated an estimated revenue of almost £86million last year,” said the crofting minister, Aileen McLeod.
“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.
“We know those are major factors in rural depopulation and so by offering financial assistance for constructing and upgrading residential properties, the Croft House Grant Scheme is helping to attract and retain people in our remote, rural and island communities.”
Convener of the Scottish Parliament’s cross-party group on crofting, Jamie McGrigor MSP, said a review of the scheme was long overdue.
He said: “Crofters are clear that the CHGS is a cost-efficient way of the government supporting housing in remote and rural areas but have been very disappointed and frustrated that the grant levels have simply not kept pace with inflation.
“I would encourage crofting constituents to look at and respond to the consultation document which suggests new support rates and a new distinction for island and non-island areas as opposed to the current three geographical areas. It is important crofters give their views on the new proposals and demonstrate their support for an increased level of CHGS.”
Western Isles crofting commissioner Murdo Maclennan said: “A successful housing policy and assistance is a key factor in securing the future of crofting. I welcome the consultation and hope that all who have an interest, will make a meaningful contribution and that improvements to the scheme are implemented promptly.”
The consultation will run for 12 weeks and close on March 31.