Network Support Grant

The Scottish Government has put in place a new grant to support bus services in 2022-23, the Network Support Grant (NSG). This includes temporary additional financial support during the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The NSG replaces the Bus Service Operators’ Grant (BSOG), COVID-19 Support Grant (CSG) and COVID-19 Support Grant - Restart (CSG-R). These schemes ceased on 31 March 2022, and operators no longer receive funding from those grants. NSG went live on 1 April 2022, and operators who wish to receive 4-weekly payments should submit the required forms (see below). Operators applying after 1 April 2022 will be brought onto the scheme at the next possible payment date and a payment timeline is linked below.

Separate payment arrangements and timings apply for Demand Responsive Transport (DRT), and community transport organisations possessing a section 19 or section 22 permit. More detail on how they should apply is set out in the Guidance for NSG, and NSG Plus below. 

The NSG is a discretionary grant that subsidises commercial and community bus routes. NSG contributes to the maintenance of the nation’s bus networks for the benefit of passengers. NSG aims to keep fares at affordable levels and networks more extensive than would otherwise be the case.


NSG will initially be provided through two sub-schemes: NSG, and NSG Plus. This ensures that operators receive the support appropriate to them. NSG and NSG Plus are separate schemes, and operators can only be signed up to one scheme at a time, but may switch between schemes if they meet the relevant terms and conditions.

NSG Plus will cease on 31 March 2023, with additional terms and conditions between 10 October 2022 and 31 March 2023.

NSG will continue to operate as normal, and we will keep it under review to ensure it remains in line with its strategic objectives.

The National Concessionary Travel Scheme for Older and Disabled People, and the Young Persons’ Free Bus Travel Scheme (‘under 22s’) will continue to operate as normal.

Please read the information below fully. If you have any questions please refer to the Frequently Asked Questions page. If this does not answer your query, please contact us at schemesandgrants@transport.gov.scot.

Commercial bus operators

Most commercial bus operators provide an annual forecast and receive payments every 4 weeks on estimates throughout their claim year. They are then required to complete and submit an annual certified claim form. Should any significant change occur during the claim year they must submit a revised estimate claim to allow a recalculation of the grant entitlement and payment adjustments as required.

Advance estimate payments are conditional upon a certified claim being submitted within three months of the end of the claim year to which the estimate refers. Failure to submit a certified claim within the required time will result in future estimate payments being withheld.



 

Section 19 & 22 bus operators

Community transport organisations possessing a section 19 or section 22 permit can either claim once annually, or twice yearly in arrears for set 6-month periods (1 October – 31 March and 1 April – 30 September).

Community Transport organisations wishing to claim through either NSG scheme under Section 19 or 22 of the Transport Act 1985 must complete an eligibility template to advise of their intention to claim. Once you have completed the template you must email that and any documents to support your claim (such as a copy of the relevant permit) to schemesandgrants@transport.gov.scot. We will hold a record of your details and issue a claim form at the appropriate time for you to complete your actual kilometres, and claim NSG. 

For any community transport organisation who is making a new claim under section 19 or 22 from 1 April 2022 you should complete the template available on this website and email schemesandgrants@transport.gov.scot with your intention to apply. Please attach any relevant permits and documents as requested to support your claim.


Where an operator was eligible for Low Carbon Vehicle or Low Emission Vehicle incentives, these are provided as additional payments under NSG where appropriate. Payment of these legacy LCV and LEV incentives will count towards the NSG Plus terms on profit.

Eligibility

The Network Support Grant will be payable to operators who are:

  • operating a local bus service as defined in section 2 of the Transport Act 1985;
  • operating a community transport service possessing a section 19 or section 22 permit;

and whose service(s) meet the further requirements detailed in the Bus Service Operators Grant (Scotland) Regulations 2002, as set out in the guidance document below.

BSOG, CSG and CSG-R ceased on 31 March 2022 and operators are no longer able to receive funding under those grants.

How the grant works

Bus operators must register with either NSG or NSG Plus before any claims for the grant will be processed.

All operators’ claim years are aligned with the financial year (1 April - 31 March).

If, on reviewing the information provided, you think you would like to opt in to one of the NSG schemes please complete and email the claim form (from those listed above) to  schemesandgrants@transport.gov.scot

Any queries should also be directed to this mailbox.

Outline Terms and Conditions – more information is available in the guidance

The two schemes are subject to different terms and conditions:

  • NSG – paid at 14.4 pence per kilometre. This is intended to contribute to the costs of running services. Outline terms and conditions include:
    • provision of forecast service kms for the relevant financial year to Transport Scotland;
    • a commitment to consult with relevant local transport authorities on timetabling, paying special attention to those services which may support children to travel to school and that are required to minimise public transport connectivity disadvantages;
    • a commitment to respond positively and quickly to reasonable requests from local transport authorities to amend service patterns, hours of operation, vehicles used or levels of provision;
    • delivery of mitigations in line with any applicable public health guidance and rules and regulations, including in relation to COVID-19;
    • a commitment to communicate changes to services with the relevant local transport authority, Transport Scotland, and the public in a timely fashion.
  • NSG Plus – paid at 79.4 pence per kilometre until 15 August, then 50.4 pence per kilometre until 9 October 2022 , then 39.2 pence per kilometre until 31 March 2023, when it will cease.
  • The NSG Plus rate is intended to help offset lost revenue while the bus network adjusts to the new travel patterns emerging following the COVID-19 pandemic. In recognition of the higher level of funding, NSG Plus has additional terms and conditions, including:
    • provision of forecast service kms for the relevant financial year to Transport Scotland;
    • notification to Transport Scotland of significant reductions to service kms, causing them to drop below 90% of their level on the Estimate Claim Form, or of service frequency reduction of 10% or more in a service that was every 30 minutes or less frequent to a particularly locality compared to the local bus services operated by the Grantee when the Grantee signed up to NSG Plus;
    • provision of regular data on farebox revenue, costs, patronage and other relevant measures to Transport Scotland;
    • data on patronage and driver shortages
    • data on revenue and key costs
    • a commitment to consult with relevant local transport authorities on timetabling, having regard to bus services which may support children to travel to school and that are required to minimise public transport connectivity disadvantages;
    • a commitment to respond positively and quickly to reasonable requests from local transport authorities to amend service patterns, hours of operation, vehicles used or levels of provision;
    • delivery of mitigations in line with any applicable public health guidance and rules and regulations, including in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic and the relevant guidance for the applicable local area;
    • a commitment to communicate changes to services with the relevant local transport authority and the public in a timely fashion;
    • a cap on permissible fare rises with increases limited to the Consumer Price Index from an agreed date pre-COVID;
    • a financial reconciliation and a margin sharing agreement of:
      • up to 7% Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) to be retained by the Grantee
      • between 7% and 20% EBIT to be shared equally between the Grantee and Transport Scotland;
      • over 20% EBIT to be retained by Transport Scotland
    • No commercial fare price increases are permitted to be implemented from the date of 10 October 2022 to 31 March 2023 without the consent of the Scottish Ministers.
    • Information on transition planning is to be submitted by the end of January 2023, to demonstrate how the operator will ensure commercial sustainability following the end of emergency funding on 31 March 2023.
    • Any other reasonable requests for information that Scottish Ministers and Transport Scotland deem necessary.