New funding for island and rural communities has been allocated through the Croft House Grants 2021/2022.
The grants have been awarded to 13 crofters to improve and build housing in remote communities in Scotland.
The aim of the scheme is to retain and attract more people to the possibility of island and rural living.
There has been a shift in people, especially young people, moving to the mainland and to major cities for crofting opportunities.
The funding has been welcomed as many crofts across the region suffer from under usage. A recent survey from the Crofting Commission found that nine in 10 crofters were concerned about the lack of available crofts for people looking to enter the sector.
Launched in 2007, the scheme has awarded £22.5 million to 1,047 families and individuals in rural and island communities with the latest round topping £433,000.
‘Without this grant we wouldn’t have been able to live on our croft with our young family.’
Rural Affairs secretary Mairi Gougeon said: “It’s clear to me just how important this grant is to crofters. Seeing what this money has helped the Matthew family do is inspiring. Since March 2020 we have awarded over £1.7 million in grant funding to help build and improve homes for 53 crofters and their families.
“Crofters play an integral role contributing to the long-term sustainability of our rural and island communities.
“The future sustainability of these areas depends on our ability to attract and retain people, particularly young families, and the Croft House Grant has proved successful in doing just that.”
Florentine and Tim Matthew, from Shetland, were approved for a grant in 2017, which helped them build their house.
They said: “The Croft House Grant has been invaluable to us – without this grant we wouldn’t have been able to live on our croft with our young family.
“Local housing is scarce and there were no available houses in our rural location.
“This grant has made the difference between us investing in building a life on a croft and being forced to move back to the city.”
What is a croft?
Croft is the term for small buildings or area of land, mainly used for agricultural purposes on islands around Scotland and are important to the idea of community living.