Application pack - Round 8


The Scottish Government’s commitment to equality and inclusiveness extends to our entire transport network, including our ferries and as a consequence the following strategies and plans have been developed:-

  • The National Transport Strategy (NTS2
  • Transport Transition Plan; and
  • National Islands Plan.

The National Transport Strategy (NTS2)

The National Transport Strategy (NTS2) sets out an ambitious and compelling vision for Scotland’s transport system for the next 20 years. There are four priorities to support that vision.

A strategy for all of Scotland

Introducing the Strategy, the then Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity Michael Matheson said:

"This Strategy advocates a vision for Scotland's transport system that will help create great places – a sustainable, inclusive, safe and accessible transport system, helping deliver a healthier, fairer and more prosperous Scotland for communities, businesses and visitors".

National Transport Strategy: Reduces inequalities

This is an exerpt from Scotland's National Transport Strategy, providing an overview of one of the four priorities of NTS2.

Reduce inequalities banner – The three key points listed are “Fair access, Ease of use and Affordability”.

Everyone in Scotland will share in the benefits of a modern and accessible transport system. Transport plays an important part in delivering the fully inclusive society we want. While we tackle inequalities, our actions will simultaneously reduce poverty, in particular child poverty.

Our transport system:

Will provide fair access to services we need: we have a duty to reduce inequalities and advance equality of opportunity and outcome, including the protected characteristics of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation. We will ensure that our disadvantaged communities and individuals have fair access to the transport services they need. The transport system will enable everyone to access a wide range of services and realise their human rights.

Will be easy to use for all: people have different needs and capabilities. Our transport system will recognise these and work to ensure that everyone can use the system with as few barriers as possible.

Will be affordable for all: people have different incomes and our transport system will not exclude people from mobility by making it unaffordable. We will target actions to deliver the Strategy towards those needing most help, including those living in poverty.

Transport Transition Plan

The Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity launched the Transport Transition Plan on 26 May 2020. This evolving plan outlines the action Transport Scotland has taken to date and the planning being undertaken to prepare the transport system as we continue to transition through and out of the pandemic. To operate a safe transport service, mitigating risks where possible for those using our transport network and for our transport operators.

The plan has a four-point strategy:

  • Assessing demand for travel and making decisions
  • Keeping public transport safe
  • Engaging with stakeholders
  • Adapting our transport systems

The Plan, over the immediate, medium and longer term, will seek to ease restrictions on everyday life and movement and support economic recovery within the transport sector and broader economy, and develop the future of transport in Scotland

The Transport Transition Plan will continue to develop as we tackle this unique challenge. The following sections aim to provide an insight into the scale and response to the challenges and how we will implement our transport decisions.

National Islands Plan

The National Islands Plan provides a framework for action in order to meaningfully improve outcomes for island communities. This Plan and its supporting Implementation Route Map will promote a fair, integrated, green and inclusive approach to transport, which will sit alongside Transport Scotland’s review of the National Transport Strategy (NTS) that will set the strategic direction for transport over the next 20 years

 The Ferries Accessibility Fund

The Ferries Accessibility Fund was set up in line with a commitment made in “Scottish Ferry Services:Ferries Plan (2013-2022). This was 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 launched by Scottish Ministers to stimulate and support such works.

Scotland’s Accessible Travel Framework Travel Framework is the national vision and outcomes for accessible travel. It is both an ambition and a commitment on our part to go beyond what the law says we must do, to help ensure we do all we can to make travel more accessible for disabled people. This ambition can only be realised with the involvement of disabled people.

The Framework is measured through annual delivery plans with the latest being published in July 2021 with priority areas covering a wide range of accessibility.

The Priority Areas most applicable to Ferry Travel

Passenger Assistance

More people with reduced mobility, using public transport who require passenger assistance use trains and ferries.

Signs, Wayfinding and Information

Improve wayfinding signage and information.

Thistle Assistance

Every disabled person will have access to an effective, national assistance card across all transport modes.

Hate Crime

Disabled people feel comfortable and safe using public transport – this includes being free from hate crime, bullying and harassment when travelling through implementation of a national Hate Crime Charter.

The Accessible Travel Framework refers throughout mainly to travel rather than transport because the issues disabled people told us about include more than just getting on or off a bus or a train or a ferry, etc. This involves the transition between ferries and other modes of travel. It is essentially the door to door journey and that includes accessible and up to date travel information, facilities around transport, inclusive streets and pathways, people's attitudes/staff training, signs and wayfinding and going between different modes of transport.

Both the Ferries Accessibility Fund and Accessible Travel Framework will assist a Scotland where "All disabled people can travel with the same freedom, choice, dignity and opportunity as other citizens".

The Accessible Travel Framework has a key project around the development of the Thistle card. In addition to the continued use of a card, an App is being developed in parallel for use by those travelling with both physical and hidden disabilities, identifying the different type of assistance required. It would be beneficial if this could be promoted and be joined up for use in respect of ferries.

Previous funded projects have included the following:-

  • Power assisted or automated doors
  • Height adjustable reception desks
  • Changing Places
  • Accessible signage
  • Apps, e.g. for assisted travel
  • Staff awareness training and sensory packs for hidden disabilities
  • Support for the Hate Crime Charter

There are other funding streams available to consider, which may be more applicable. These include schemes operated by Government and Local Authorities; for those controlled via Transport Scotland, details can be found on the Transport Scotland website.

Although not exhaustive, below are examples of alternative schemes for consideration; which are currently available.

ERDF Low Carbon Travel and Transport Challenge Fund - to help deliver innovative active travel and low carbon transport hubs and paths.

Mobility as a Service known as MaaS is another helpful tool, the concept is to provide people with easy, digital access to travel information so they can be better informed as to the different ways to undertake their journey.

Reference to the specific scheme to identify eligibility, criteria and guidance is required.

How will the Accessibility Fund be managed?

The Fund will be 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) You can find out more about MACS here on this link MACS[1]

The Mobility and Access Committee for Scotland (MACS) provides advice on matters about the needs of disabled persons in connection with transport and act as a critical friend to the Minister for Transport and other relevant Ministers. MACS most recent annual report provides the issues that matter to them.

How much money is available?

A sum of £500,000 was made available in 2014. After taking account of projects awarded in the previous 7 tranches between 2014 and 2021 a balance of around £71,000 is available.

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

However, the Fund Management Group will have discretion to consider and approve bids requiring grant of more than 50% of total costs.

Where appropriate, projects covering more than one financial year can be considered.

We would welcome early enquiries and discussion concerning any potential proposals.

What can money from the Fund be used for?

The purpose of the Fund is 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.

  • Mobility and Access Committee for Scotland have also produced a resource Improving Accessibility At Ferry Terminals toolkit which you are encouraged to review. This could assist in identifying projects that could be pursued.
  • There is also a new set of guidance from DFT which quotes the MACS document and adds more guidance using the link below
  • Maritime passenger rights can be found here and is a useful resource to review.

The Fund is not there to enable a provision to meet the regulatory requirements. The Ferries Accessibility Fund is there to support projects that go beyond and enhance the minimum regulatory requirements.

The Fund is not intended for major investments in new vessels or facilities but can support improvements to existing vessels and harbours.

See also the more detailed section on ‘Scope of Applications’ below.

If the application for funding concerns an improvement that is part of a larger project, then the details and costings included in the Application form should only be elements relevant to the fund. That is: only the infrastructure works or services that go beyond minimum regulatory requirements as set out within this guidance pack can be included. However: -

  • A scope and output of the larger project should be provided.
  • Alongside this, explain where the application to the Fund fits into the larger project in order to assist accessibility for disabled people and those that have mobility challenges. Detailed costings should be provided. Funding sources for the project should be specified.

In terms of eligibility, we want this to be as open as possible to include ‘technical’ improvements but also staff training and possibly practical studies (of the type that would lead directly to practical implementation projects).

The Fund can also cover proposals developed in partnership with other transport and infrastructure providers to facilitate integration with other modes and a seamless journey for disabled people (in these instances we would normally expect to see match funding, or non-financial equivalent contributions, from all such partners).

It should not include any applications for retrospective projects.

It is not intended to fund repairs or maintenance.

Who can apply?

Any ferry or harbour operator providing a service covered by the Ferries Plan can apply to the Fund. This includes local authority ports and ferry services and private sector ports and services. The reference point for eligibility will be the list of ferry routes and the associated ports listed in Appendix 4 of the Ferries Plan. However, should this list have overlooked any service otherwise covered by the Ferries Plan then eligibility can be discussed with, and clarified by, Transport Scotland.

In addition, local authorities and regional transport partnerships may wish to lead an application in respect of improvements at eligible ports and services in their area including those for which the authority is not directly responsible.

Applications from other stakeholder organisations such as community groups with an interest in enhancing the experience of disabled persons using ferry services will be considered.

  • Alternatively, you can consult with the ferry or port operator to submit either a joint application or for them to take forward the proposals.
  • Advice on who to contact can be given by Transport Scotland as detailed in Contacts below.

For avoidance of doubt, the Ferries Plan does not cover services to destinations outside Scotland, these services and harbours are outside the scope of the Fund.

How are applications made to the Fund?

The aim is to have simple but effective procedures for the application and award of grants whilst ensuring value for money and propriety in use of public money.

We are keen to ensure that applications reflect the actual needs of disabled users.

We therefore expect evidence of engagement with Local Access panels, disabled person’s organisations, user organisations and/or other relevant groups representative of disabled people. This may highlight areas otherwise overlooked that could enhance the service or overall experience by disabled and other customers or visitors with reduced mobility.

Your application is to include evidence of who and how you have engaged with the relevant organisations / people.

If the project involves adaptations to the environment, the applicant should engage relevant technical or professional advice. This will ensure adherence to best practise and pertinent standards; and form part of the validation process.

The application form is attached at Appendix B.

Please complete all relevant fields and submit by 2 June 2023 to: and

If you are not the owner of the service or property of the proposed project; please confirm who the owner is, your relationship and confirmation that permission has been obtained from the owner.

In addition to the Application Form, and subject to the project, you should include photos, drawings/plans. Failure to do so could lead to a potential delay in assessing your proposal.

When drawings are included:

  • Those supplied at the Application stage can be proposals or impressions.
  • At the stage of your project being awarded funds in principle, full technical drawings in accordance with relevant regulations must be supplied prior to a grant offer being made.

If the completion of an Access Statement has been, or is required to be, completed as part of the project, then a copy of this should be included with your Application.

  • The Fund Management Group may also request the completion of an Access Statement if it is required for project evaluation.

An Equality Impact Assessment (EQIA) of the impact of your proposed project should be completed. You can use your own template or use the example at Appendix C.

  • The EQIA is undertaken in accordance with Section 5 of the Equality Act 2010 (Specific Duties) (Scotland) Regulations 2012.
  • It is also a requirement of Section 4.0.1 of Scottish Building Standards. Section 11 details applicable legislation.

There is a requirement for 3 quotes to be sought or an explanation of an equivalent or best practice procurement system in place describing how this ensures value for money.

If supplementary information is requested, a response will be required within a specified timescale.

  • If no response is received, including any request to extend this timescale, this will result in the closure of your application.


Our outline timetable is as follows:

  • 2 May 2023 - formal announcement of the call for proposals
  • 2 June 2023 - deadline for submission of proposals
  • July 2023 - grant awards

It is planned to issue calls for proposals annually subject to budget.

Payment of Fund contribution

Once the Fund Management Group have assessed the applications, the nominated contact will be advised of the outcome.

If successful, this will be followed up by a formal Grant Offer Letter.

The appropriate person in organisation should complete, sign and return Grant Acceptance contained within the Grant Offer Letter.

10% of the grant award will be retained. This will be payable on: -

  • Confirmation of passing any relevant inspections.
  • Receipt of the completed validation of the project (see Section 10).

To claim funds please submit: -

  • Copies of Invoices (PDF versions acceptable)
  • Schedule 2 of the Grant Offer Letter

Staged payments of project costs can be considered on request at the time of Application or award of grant.

Upon acceptance of the Grant Award, as per para 8.3, you will

  • Supply Transport Scotland with a quarterly progress report of the project being funded. Details of requirement will be set out in the Grant Award letter.
  • If staged payments (para 8.6) are applicable, these will be in accordance to the profile as agreed.

Scope of applications

We want the Fund to be as beneficial as possible and to avoid the situation where good proposals are not approved because they fall outside a scope that has been too narrowly defined.

Imaginative or innovative applications are welcomed.

The only core criteria we have is that bids are for projects that: -

  • Go beyond existing legal requirements;
  • Will deliver benefits for disabled persons or those with reduced mobility travelling by ferry;
  • Are ‘one-off’ or time-limited – so the Fund cannot pay for permanent staff posts or fare discounts for example.

However, the following is a list of projects – mainly physical adaptations – most of which were identified during the Ferries Review as improvements that could be made to existing vessels and harbours. Subject to cost, these could therefore be supported through the Fund.

This is not a complete list is in no particular order and is not exhaustive.

If you are in any doubt about the eligibility of a project, please contact us to discuss your ideas.

  • Increased width of car lanes.
  • Lifts allowing access to all passenger decks including external decks.
  • Adjustable height dining tables in the cafeteria.
  • Space allocated in all passenger lounges for wheelchairs [if not part of Regulatory requirements].
  • Disabled or Assisted toilets on passenger decks.
  • Changing Place guide to a Changing Place (Fully accessible toilet space equipped with hoist and adjustable height bench for adult changing)
  • Hearing Systems
  • Visual display units / Tactile signage
  • Assistance telephones (or other forms of assistance) at unmanned ports and slipways
  • Adaptation of doors on-board vessels
  • Facilities for assistance animals at ports and on ships
  • Staff training
  • Sourcing information of ferry timetables, bookings, port facilities, journey experience, etc.
  • Audits of existing facilities
  • Ramps and elevators and Handrails (if not required by legislation)
  • Dedicated quiet areas
  • Sensory Packs, e.g. for Autistic passengers
  • Apps for assisted travel

For avoidance of doubt, applications can also include justified funding for staff and administrative costs directly associated with the completion of the project.

In addition, the Fund could also support small studies into disability access issues, particularly where operators need some additional input to clarify what would best improve accessibility in their vessel or harbour (and between the two).

  • It would be an expectation that funded studies would include a section on how the outcomes would be addressed and funded.

It is anticipated that applications for consideration will require funding of between £5,000 and £50,000 giving an overall project cost of up to £100,000

This will not preclude applications out with this range being deliberated, it should however be borne in mind the limited overall level of funding available within the Accessibility Fund and administrative costs for small value applications. We would welcome early discussion of any potential proposed projects out-with the above funding range.

Post Project Implementation

A validation of the project is required to be undertaken Data Protection Act on completion by the applicant with results shared with Transport Scotland. The methodology of conducting the validation of the project is left to discretion of the applicant.

It is, however, recommended that the validation is undertaken in an independent manner.

It is expected that this validation would be within 6 months of completion of the project. There will be occasions when the validation may be required prior to the release of funds.

There is an expectation that the project will be publicised and the benefits it will achieve. This will include the funding assistance from Transport Scotland and other sources, where applicable. See Appendix D.

The Transport Scotland branding logo can be used for both publication and a permanent plaque purposes. The use of this Transport Scotland logo, however, must be suitable and approved by Transport Scotland.

Consideration of how to undertake the publicity on the project being funded can include:

  • Social Media
  • Mainstream media
  • Permanent plaque

If the project also includes funding from other third parties; you should consult with them directly regarding their policy requirements.

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.

Since December 2012, the EU Regulation on maritime passenger rights Regulation (EU) No. 1177/2010

Where legislative obligations already apply, it is expected that ferry and port operators will meet these from their own resources.

Where applicable, all building work or retro-fitting must be in accordance with the current Scottish Government Building Standards Scottish Government Building Standards 2017.


UNCRDP This UN Convention is intended as a human rights instrument with an explicit, social development dimension. It adopts a broad categorisation of persons with disabilities and reaffirms that all persons with all types of disabilities must enjoy all human rights and fundamental freedoms. It clarifies and qualifies how all categories of rights apply to persons with disabilities and identifies areas where adaptations have to be made for persons with disabilities to effectively exercise their rights and areas where their rights have been violated, and where protection of rights must be reinforced.

An Equality Impact Assessment (EQIA) involves assessing the impact of new or revised policies, practices or services against the requirements of the public sector equality duty. The duty requires to have due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination, advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations. It covers people in respect of all aspects of equality (age, disability, sex, race, religion or belief, sexual orientation, gender reassignment and pregnancy and maternity). It helps to ensure the needs of people are taken into account during the development and implementation of a new policy or service or when a change is made to a current policy or service.

Numerous examples of Equality Impact Assessments (EQIA) are available to view on the intranet

The Accessible Travel Framework for Scotland Accessible Travel Framework 2019-2020 is a national vision that every disabled person in Scotland can travel with the same freedom, choice, dignity and opportunity as other citizens. It aligns to the provisions within the Transport (Scotland) Bill which contains vital measures to aid accessibility.


For any questions please contact:

Alistair Thomson
Transport Scotland


Caroline Connelly
Transport Scotland
07814 785 899