Financial assistance is available to crofters in the former crofting counties of Scotland for capital improvement works to holdings and infrastructure.
The limit on eligible expenditure for any one business is £25,000 in the two years ending with the date of any claim. A business is defined as all the eligible units occupied by the applicant, the applicant and spouse, or a partnership. Eligible units may be tenanted or sub-tenanted, or be owner-occupied crofts or non-croft holdings as described below in the next section. The maximum grant payable per grazings committee (or eligible group) will be limited to £125,000 in any two-year period.
The rates of grant will be set at 60% of approved costs in Less Favoured Areas (LFAs), and 40% of approved costs in non LFAs. Applicants aged under 41 years of age are eligible to receive 80% in LFAs and 60% in non LFAs. For clarification on current designations, contact the local Area Office.
The Crofting Agricultural Grant Scheme is funded through the Scottish Rural Development Plan and is administered by the Scottish Government Rural Payments and Inspections Division (SGRPID).
The scheme seeks to support crofters and other eligible occupiers living in the former crofting counties of Argyll, Inverness (including Skye), Ross and Cromarty (including the Western Isles), Sutherland, Caithness, Orkney, and Shetland through providing capital means for necessary improvement works to holdings and common grazings.
Ineligible expenditure includes:
- Mobile equipment.
- Purchase of production rights, animals, land or plants.
- Dairy production.
Limited support is available for:
- Investment in milk, pigs and poultry.
- Fattening/breeding of pigs.
- Poultry and egg production.
Support will not be provided for replacement items solely intended to replace existing improvements and which are intended to serve the same purpose as the original. Funding will not be available for projects with the sole purpose of increasing capacity.
Applicants living more than 10 miles (16km) from their croft may not be eligible for support.
The croft excluding common grazing land must not substantially exceed 30 hectares, or the annual rent of the croft must not substantially exceed £100.
Applicants must be based within the former crofting counties of Scotland. Interested parties may be eligible for grant provided they can show that they are of similar economic status to a crofter. An owner must satisfy an Economic Status Test (EST) before an application can be considered. If the applicant operates the croft or holding as a partnership, each business partner must satisfy the economic status requirements.
The classes of occupiers eligible to apply for grants under the scheme are:
- the tenant of a registered croft;
- the occupier of a registered croft who is also the owner thereof and is of substantially the same economic status as a crofter;
- the legal sub-tenant of a registered croft or part thereof, ie a sub-tenant under a sublease entered into an accordance with Section 11 of the Crofters (Scotland) Act 1961;
- the legal occupier for 10 or more years of an eligible holding other than a croft who is of substantially the same economic status as a crofter, providing the holding is situated in one of the former crofting counties, and either does not substantially exceed 30 hectares or the Commission is satisfied that the annual rent of the holding, if it were a croft, would not substantially exceed £100. Tenants of such holdings must be able to demonstrate continuous occupation of the land for a period of not less than 15 years; or
- a common grazings committee or a grazings constable appointed under Section 24 of the Crofters (Scotland) Act 1955.
A business must also be classed as a small or medium-sized enterprise (SME) in line with Annex 1 of Commission Regulation 70/2001 (as amended). In summary, an SME has fewer than 250 employees, has an annual turnover not exceeding EUR 50 million or a balance sheet not exceeding EUR 43 million, and is not owned at a rate of more than 25% by other companies.
In addition, applicants must be registered with the Scottish Government's Integrated Administration and Control System (IACS) and have a Business Reference Number (BRN).
A holding must be situated in the former crofting counties, within the Highlands and Islands Enterprise area.
Assistance may not be available for those living more than 10 miles from the croft, although each case will be treated on its individual merits.
Co-financing of projects must be made by the applicant or private sector. Applicants for grant under CCAGS may not apply for grant aid under other publicly-funded grant schemes for all or part of the same work.
Grants are available for projects that meet at least one of the following scheme objectives:
- To reduce production costs.
- To improve and redeploy production.
- To improve quality.
- To preserve and improve the natural environment, hygiene conditions and animal welfare standards.
- To promote the diversification of farm activities.
Note: All works need prior approval.
Eligible operations include land improvement, agricultural buildings, provision of roads and services, and facilities for keeping livestock.
The Principal Categories of Eligible Operations are as follows:
- Erection or improvement of agricultural buildings, and shelters for the temporary housing and sheltering of out-wintered livestock.
- Works associated with agricultural buildings, including yards, hard standings, dungsteads, slurry stores and silos (excluding grain silos).
- Investment in land management, including the initial grassland improvement works for the restoration of degraded land and the control of bracken.
- Arterial drainage and field drainage, including under drainage, hill drainage and ditching.
- Provision or improvement of facilities for the organised feeding of out-wintered livestock, including permanently fixed troughs and feed barriers, and associated concrete bases.
- Provision or improvement of equipment for the handling and treatment of livestock.
- Planting of shelter belts and provision of fences, hedges, walls, gates or stock-grids.
- Provision or improvement of amenities, including water supplies, mains electricity connection or supply, supply and installation of an electricity generator, and provision of gas supply.
- Provision of electrical equipment.
- Provision or improvement of access tracks to land improvement areas, roads, bridges, culverts or boat slips.
Note: Support may be available where it is a first-time improvement, where the improvement is an integral element of a larger project, or where a substantive upgrade is involved. Support will not be available for applications which are solely intended to replace existing improvements, and which are intended to serve the same purpose as the original. However, where a previous facility is classed as derelict, ie no longer serviceable or fulfilling its function and incapable of being repaired or maintained, then assistance may be available, providing the applicant can also demonstrate that improvement meets one or more of the scheme objectives.
Where the work is undertaken by either the applicant or an employee, the labour costs can also be applied for. The value of the labour element will be assessed by the local Scottish Government Rural Payments Inspections Directorate (SGRPID) office, and will normally be based on industry standards for each operation and the current Agricultural Wage Board rates.
Applications may be made at any time.
Application forms may be obtained from, and should be returned to, the appropriate local Area Office (see addresses below), together with plans and specifications of the proposed works where appropriate.
The form on which grant is claimed will be enclosed with the authority to start work. As soon as approved works are finished, this form must be completed with particulars of all costs incurred including where appropriate the cost of the applicant's own labour, and forwarded to the local office together with supporting vouchers.
The local SGRPID area office will process the application. Decisions are provided in writing within 90 days for buildings and 42 days for all other operations. Claims will be paid after the project has been completed. On receipt of a properly completed form, claims will be paid within 42 days for non-inspected cases and 90 days for those cases selected for inspection.