Mr MacNeil said Mr Ewing was “very open and understanding” of the situation and the
difficulties and was “looking for genuine solutions.”
“Of course, he is understandably concerned about budgetary implications against a
background of a Westminster government with austerity policies who have been cutting
the Scottish Government budget.
“Given that the Croft House Grant has risen from £22,000 to £38,000, I shall be asking
amongst my constituents if a slight reduction in the grant might be acceptable for
the removal of the conditions.
“We would still be looking for the grant to be far higher than the previous £22,000
grant, believing that anything in the area of £30,000-£35,000 would represent good
value for money but would also ensure our fragile islands do provide opportunities
for people to come back and live.
“We know the cost of living is higher and wages are lower and that the cost of getting
materials to the islands is also higher. The Croft House Grants offsets many of these
things and is very important in anchoring people in the islands at a crucial time
in their lives.
“My concern is if this current period continues, we will lose a generation of people
who find it impossible to build a house and stay in the islands.”
The Western Isles MP and MSP have raised the difficulties people have with the new
Croft House Grant Scheme with crofting minister, Fergus Ewing.
Although the new grant level is far higher and at a welcome level, accessing the
grant is difficult due to the conditions on means testing and floor area size, they
The knock-on effect in is less house building, fewer jobs in construction and less
quality homes in the Western Isles, they say.
As the islands have one of the highest levels of fuel poverty and one of the lowest
levels of quality housing stock this means a greater demand for public housing built
at a far greater cost than via the Croft House Grant Scheme.