Scottish Ferry Services: Ferries Plan (2013-2022)

Appendix 5: Principles for Transferring Responsibility


19. The Draft Ferries Plan published on 21 December 2011, for a fourteen week period of consultation included the following commitments:

"The Scottish Government is willing to be responsible for all 'lifeline' ferry services in Scotland." And,

"The Scottish Government is also willing to work with the relevant Local Authorities to discuss the possibility of the Scottish Government taking over responsibility for services currently provided by them."

20. This paper sets out the principles the Scottish Government will take into account when considering such a transfer of responsibility.


  • The Scottish Government will only become involved if the Local Authority wishes us to do so;
  • The Scottish Government will have to be satisfied that the routes in question are in fact 'lifeline' services;
  • The Local Authority wishing to transfer responsibility for a lifeline ferry service to the Scottish Government must also be prepared (where necessary) to transfer ownership of the ports and harbour infrastructure used.
  • The Scottish Government will need to be satisfied that the Routes and Services Methodology (RSM) has been applied to the routes in question. Where the Scottish Government have not already carried out the RSM on the route, they will be prepared to work with the LA to achieve this. It will however be for the LA to ensure that robust data is made available for this purpose;
  • Linked to the previous principle, the Scottish Government will only fund services at a level considered necessary after applying the RSM. Any over provision in services would need to be addressed by the Local Authority ahead of a transfer or else continue to be funded by the Local Authority afterwards;
  • Agreement will have to be reached about the levels of capital and revenue funding to be transferred to Scottish Government. In terms of capital funding, consideration of the current age and condition of the vessel(s) and harbours/piers will be required, and agreement reached on the correct level of funding to be transferred. Revenue funding to be transferred will represent the 'true' cost of providing the service. In other words, funding to be transferred will include funding for the particular ferry service(s) made available by the Scottish Government, via the local government block grant, and the additional contribution made by the Local Authority itself.;
  • Agreement must be reached about the correct split of responsibility. The Scottish Government is keen to discuss shared responsibility. Where the Local Authority retains a level of responsibility for defining services, the Scottish Government will be looking for them to also retain a degree of funding responsibility;
  • Decisions on the way forward for RET on these routes has still to be taken, a transfer of responsibility does not alter this position - in other words transferring a service will not automatically mean that the Scottish Government will implement RET fares.

Transport Scotland