Ferries Accessibility Fund

Status: Active

The Ferries Accessibility Fund aims to improve the accessibility of ferries and ports and to enhance the ferry travelling experience of disabled people and others facing mobility or access challenges. This includes passengers that have hidden disabilities.

The fund was set up in line with a commitment made in "Scottish Ferry Services: Ferries Plan (2013-2022)" in response to one of the recommendations made by the Accessibility Sub-Group of the Ferries Review. The Sub-Group’s report noted that the most practical and cost-effective way of enhancing the accessibility of vessels and ports was to address this in the design of new vessels and significant harbour developments. However, the cost of reasonable retrofitting should not be prohibitive and the Accessibility Fund was set up to address this.

The fund supports the Accessible Travel Framework for Scotland, whose purpose is to:

  • Support disabled people’s rights by removing barriers and improving access to travel
  • Ensure disabled people are fully involved in work to improve all aspects of travel.

General information on the fund

The Fund is administered by Transport Scotland.

Decisions on applications will be taken by a Fund Management Group, which will comprise of representatives from Transport Scotland and the Mobility and Access Committee for Scotland (MACS).

A sum of £500,000 was made available. After taking account of projects awarded in the previous 5 rounds between 2014 and 2019, there is a balance of around £144,000 currently still available in 2020.

Allocations of funding will be on a match-funding basis. Normally this will be 50/50, which gives the opportunity for £1 million overall to be spent on accessibility improvements over the life of the Accessibility Fund.

We have so far supported 23 projects in previous rounds, with a funding total of nearly £1,146,000. These projects have included: Disabled or Assisted toilets on passenger decks; Changing Place (Fully accessible toilet space equipped with hoist and adjustable height bench for adult changing); Hearing Systems; Staff training; Sensory Packs, e.g. for Autistic passengers; and Apps for assisted travel.

Eligible organisations

Any ferry or harbour operator providing an internal ferry service. This includes local authority ports and ferry services and private sector ports and services.

In addition, local authorities and regional transport partnerships or other community groups may wish to lead an application in respect of improvements at eligible ports and services in their area.

Application process

The Application Pack details the criteria and what information will be required when submitting an application, including guidance notes.

The sixth round of the Accessibility Fund was launched on 9 October 2020 and applications are now invited.

Our timetable is as follows:

  • 9 October 2020 - formal announcement of the call for proposals
  • 9 November 2020 - deadline for submission of proposals
  • December 2020/January 2021 - grant awards


Relevant Legislation

The Equality Act 2010 ('the Equality Act') provides a broad legal framework covering discrimination against people with specific 'protected characteristics'. One of the protected characteristics is disability.

It includes a positive duty to make reasonable adjustments for disabled people, and applies to service providers and those exercising public functions. This requires those subject to the duty to remove or change physical features, provisions, criteria or practices which would put a disabled person at a substantial disadvantage in comparison with a person who is not disabled.


Bob Davie
Transport Scotland
0131 244 7243


Caroline Connelly
Transport Scotland
0141 272 7146
07814 785 899