7. The future of crofting
7.1 Crofters were asked a range of questions pertaining to the future of crofting, both in relation to their own croft and to crofting at large.
7.2 Just over half of crofters (53%) stated that they do not currently have a succession plan in place for when they pass on their croft or tenancy agreement, while 47% said they did have one. This is consistent with the results in 2014, when 54% of crofters said they did not have a plan.
7.3 Perhaps unsurprisingly, those who had been crofting 20 years or more were most likely to have a succession plan in place, with 53% reporting to have one.
7.4 Amongst those without a succession plan in place, the most commonly cited reasons were having no potential successor, children/successor not being interested in crofting and no interest in making a succession plan, as shown in Figure 7.1.
Figure 7.1 Q What is the main reason for not having a succession plan in place? (Base: 316)
7.5 Crofters were also asked to consider the extent to which they agreed or disagreed with a number of statements about the longer term outlook and future role of crofting in Scotland. The results are shown in Figure 7.2 below.
7.6 There was almost a consensus among crofters that crofting was not viable without a supplementary income from work outside crofting activities, with 95% of crofters agreeing with this statement, while views towards other issues were more mixed. A majority (62%) of crofters expressed the view that it was necessary for crofting to continue to diversify from agricultural-based activities in order to secure its economic future, and less than four in ten (37%) crofters agreed that crofting had a sustainable future in its present form. Furthermore, most crofters (60%) were keen to see income from developments on the common grazings shared with the wider community.
7.7 Generally, crofters knew where to go to find information on economic or financial help for crofting activities with two thirds (65%) agreeing with this statement, while they were divided on the Government’s commitment to the future of Crofting with just under half agreeing that the Scottish Government is committed to protecting the future of Crofting (49%).
Figure 7.2 Q To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statements about crofting? (Base: 701)
7.8 Crofters were given the opportunity to make any further comments regarding their croft or the future of crofting in Scotland. Almost four in ten (38%) of crofters took the opportunity to do so. As shown in the below chart, the most common themes touched upon by crofters were a perceived lack of support/funding available to crofters (23%); a lack of support from Westminster or the Scottish Government (12%); and lack of representation for crofting/lack of support from crofting authorities (8%).
Figure 7.3 Chart showing the top five themes in further comments regarding crofts and the future of crofting in Scotland (Base: 701)
7.9 Crofters were given the opportunity at the end of the survey to provide open comments regarding their croft or the future of crofting in Scotland. In total 272 crofters provided a response.
7.10 There was a clear appetite for more financial support and wider encouragement and representation, both from the Scottish Government and representative bodies such as the Crofting Commission, especially for smaller crofts. Concerns were also expressed around the under-utilisation of croft land with some crofters discussing their sub-letting and sharing arrangements and others advocating greater letting and sub-letting among ageing crofters. The quotes below illustrate some of the key themes that came through in crofters’ comments.
“Crofting requires the support of the government. Financially this funding allows me to improve the land and environment. I would not have been able to make improvements I have done without the crofting grants.”
“I would like to see the Crofting Commission take a more active role in crofting communities and support the crofters.”
“If smaller holdings are not starting to get the necessary economic support from the government or the crofting entities - and considering that these smaller holdings make up for the majority in remote areas - we do not believe that crofting in Scotland will get any better.”
“Until old crofters realise they can, in complete safety, let their croft land with no risk of a right-to-buy or any other way they could lease it, they won't. So viable units are left to rack and ruin.”
Email: Neil Davidson