Notes To The Accounts

Notes To The Accounts

1. Statement of Accounting Policies

In accordance with the accounts direction issued by Scottish Ministers under section 19(4) of the Public Finance and Accountability (Scotland) Act 2000 (reproduced at page 78) these accounts have been prepared in compliance with the principles and disclosure requirements of the Government Financial Reporting Manual, which follows Generally Accepted Accounting Practice as defined by International Financial Reporting standards (IFRS) as adopted by the European Union and reflected in the Companies Act 2006 to the extent that it is meaningful and appropriate in the public sector context. The particular accounting policies applied by Transport Scotland are described below. They have been applied consistently in dealing with items considered material in relation to the accounts.

The accounts are prepared using accounting policies, and, where necessary, estimation techniques which are selected as the most appropriate for the purpose of giving a true and fair view in accordance with the principles, set out in International Accounting Standard 8: Accounting Policies, Changes in Accounting Estimates and Errors. Changes in accounting policies which do not give rise to a prior year adjustment are reported in the relevant note.

1.1 Accounting Convention

These accounts have been prepared under the historical cost convention, modified where appropriate for the revaluation of property, plant and equipment, intangible assets, and, where material, current asset investment to fair value as determined by the relevant accounting standard.

1.2 Trunkings / Detrunkings

Transport Scotland accounts reflect ownership of the trunk road network which it has responsibility to maintain. Transfers of the responsibility for maintaining sections of the road as part of the trunk road network from or to the local authority network are referred to as 'trunkings' or detrunkings' respectively. The trunking or detrunking of roads from or to local authorities is treated as a transfer from or to other government departments. Roads and structures detrunked are effectively dealt with as disposals in accounting terms at nil consideration. The associated profit or loss is processed through the general fund.

1.3 Prior Year Adjustments

Material adjustments relating to prior periods and arising from changes in accounting policies or from the correction of fundamental errors are accounted for as prior year adjustments. Opening balances are adjusted for the cumulative effect of the prior year adjustment and comparative figures for the preceding period are restated. The effect of any such adjustments on prior year comparatives is also separately disclosed in the notes to the accounts.

1.4 Property, Plant and Equipment (PPE)

All PPE assets will be accounted for as non-current assets unless they are deemed to be held-for-sale (see 1.6 below)

Non-infrastructure assets include land and buildings, information & technology equipment and software licences. Title to the freehold land and buildings shown in the accounts of Transport Scotland is held by Scottish Ministers.

Capitalisation Policy

The trunk road network is recognised as a single infrastructure asset in accordance with the applicable guidance outlined in the Financial Reporting Manual. However it comprises four distinct elements that are accounted for differently: Land; the Road Pavement; Structures (such as bridges and culverts); and Communications (such as variable message signs).

Subsequent expenditure is capitalised where it adds to the service potential or replaces the existing elements of assets that were previously identified in the Road Asset Valuation system employed.

Expenditure that does not replace or enhance service potential will be expensed as a charge to the Statement of Comprehensive Net Expenditure.

Pre contract advance work is capitalised once a road scheme has been approved to proceed, and subsequent expenditure after contract award is capitalised for all road construction projects. Where a scheme is subsequently cancelled the capital costs are written off to the Statement of Comprehensive Net Expenditure. Any retained land or building assets are transferred to the land and buildings category where it is not currently possible to market them for sale or to Assets Held for Sale where they are being marketed for sale. Assets held for sale are stated at market values.

All other categories of tangible fixed asset are capitalised if the expenditure is greater than:

Land & Buildings £10,000
Information & Communication Technology (ICT) £1,000
Plant & Machinery £5,000


Items falling below these limits are charged as an expense and shown in the Statement of Comprehensive Net Expenditure. Furniture and fittings are not capitalised unless part of a specially identified ring fenced project such as a major relocation exercise.

Major rail projects, which are capital in nature, are funded by Transport Scotland but as control of the economic benefit of the asset ultimately sits with Network Rail, the assets are not on the Statement of Financial Position of the Agency.


Land and Buildings and Dwellings are held at current market values assessed by the VOA. Other items of property, plant and equipment are held at depreciated historic cost. From 1 April 2007 these assets were no longer revalued using indices as the movement in these indices was considered to be negligible and the economic lives of the assets so short that the relative value of any potential adjustment was not likely to be significant.

Infrastructure Assets - the road network

The road network is valued at its depreciated replacement cost in terms of the guidance in the Financial Reporting Manual for specialist assets for which market valuations are not available. Land is valued by rates supplied by the Valuation Office Agency (VOA).

The road pavement element is valued using agreed rates determined to identify the gross replacement cost of applicable types of road on the basis of new construction on a greenfield site. These rates are re-valued annually using indices to reflect current prices and are also updated when new construction costs become available as comparators to the costs previously identified for specific road types.

Structures are valued using agreed rates determined to identify the replacement cost of applicable types of structure on the basis of new construction on a greenfield site where these are available but special structures, which tend to be one off by their nature, are valued using specific costs that are updated to current prices.

Communications are valued using agreed rates determined to identify the replacement cost of applicable types of communications.

Depreciation is accounted for in respect of the road pavement by reference to the service potential assessed by condition surveys that are carried out over the whole network as part of a rolling programme that covers every section of road at least every five years. The Structures and Communications elements are depreciated using the straight line method applied to the revalued replacement costs, and also inspected every five years to identify any other changes. Land is not depreciated.

The indexation factors applied are:

Road Pavement and Structures Baxter Index, published quarterly by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
Communications Traffic Scotland provide new gross and calculated depreciated values each year.
Land Land indices produced by VOA

Upwards movements in value are taken to the revaluation reserve. Downward movements in value are set off against any credit balance held in the revaluation reserve until the credit is exhausted and thereafter expensed in the Statement of Comprehensive Net Expenditure. Historic Valuation adjustments in respect of minor corrections to prior year measurements and valuations of the road network are separately identified in the Statement of Changes in Taxpayers' Equity and Property Plant and Equipment note and not treated as prior year adjustments.

Assets Under Construction

Road building schemes in the course of construction are capitalised at actual cost with no indexation.

Land and Buildings

Land and property released from road schemes and now deemed surplus to requirements is transferred to, and accounted for, as Assets Held For Sale (see Note 1.6 below).

Information Technology

Information technology assets are stated at historical cost with no indexation applied.

1.5 Depreciation

Infrastructure assets - the road network

Roads and associated street furniture are surveyed over a five year rolling period to assess their estimated remaining useful lives and the resultant assessment is used to determine their valuation, with any changes reflected as a condition variance. The variance is valued according to the rates applied to the respective sections of road.

The useful economic lives of elements of the road valuation are assessed according to the following design lives:

Life in years
Road surface, sub-pavement layer, fencing, drainage and lighting 20 to 50
Road bridges, tunnels and underpasses 20 to 120
Culverts, retaining walls and gantries 20 to 120
Road communications assets 15 to 50
Assets under construction No depreciation


The annual depreciation charge for the road surface is the value of the service potential replaced through the maintenance programme plus, or minus the annual condition variance.

Structures and communications assets are depreciated on a straight line basis over the expected useful life of the asset, normally 20 to 120 years.

Land is considered to have an indefinite life and is not depreciated.

Non-Infrastructure Assets

With the exception of surplus land and properties awaiting resale, non-infrastructure assets are depreciated on a straight line basis over the expected life of the particular asset category as follows:

Life in years
Freehold buildings 5 to 100
Leasehold buildings Shorter of length of lease or specific asset life
IT Equipment 3 to 10


1.6 Assets Held For Sale

A property is derecognised and held for sale according to the requirements of IFRS5 when all of the following requirements are met:

  • it is available for immediate sale;
  • a plan is in place, supported by management, and steps have been taken to conclude the sale; and
  • it is actively marketed and there is an expectation that the sale will be made in less than 12 months.

Assets held for sale are those which Transport Scotland expects to sell within one year. Assets classified as held for sale are measured at the lower of their carrying amounts and their fair value less cost of sale. Assets classified as held for sale are not subject to depreciation or amortisation.

1.7 Intangible Non-Current Assets

Intangible Non-Current assets are capitalised where expenditure of £1,000 or more is incurred in acquiring them. These are valued at historic cost and amortised on a straight line basis over the expected life of the asset.

1.8 Financial Instruments

Transport Scotland measures and presents financial instruments in accordance with IAS32, IAS39, and IFRS7 as interpreted and adapted by the Government Financial Reporting Manual (FReM). IAS39 requires the classification of financial instruments into separate categories for which the accounting treatment is different. Transport Scotland has classified its financial instruments as follows:

Financial Assets:

  • Cash and cash equivalents, trade receivables, short term loans, accrued income relating to EU funding, amounts receivable and shares and loans will be reported in the 'Loans and Receivables' category.
  • Shares held in and loans advanced to public sector bodies will be reported in a separate category.

Financial Liabilities:

  • Borrowings, trade payables, accruals, payables, bank overdrafts and financial guarantee contracts are classified as 'Other Liabilities'.

Financial instruments are initially measured at fair value with the exception of 'Shares held in and loans advanced to public sector bodies' which are held at historic cost. The fair value of the financial assets and liabilities is determined as follows:

  • the fair value of cash and cash equivalents and current non-interest bearing monetary financial assets and financial liabilities approximate their carrying value; and
  • the fair value of other non current monetary financial assets and financial liabilities is based on market values where a market exists, or has been determined by discounting expected cash flows by the current interest rate for financial assets and liabilities with similar risk profiles.

Financial instruments subsequent measurement depends on their classification:

  • all financial instruments that are held at fair value with any changes going through the Statement of Comprehensive Net Expenditure.
  • loans and receivables and other liabilities are held at amortised cost and not revalued unless they are included in a fair value hedge accounting relationship. Any impairment losses are charged to the Statement of Comprehensive Net Expenditure.
  • shares held in and loans advanced to public sector bodies are held at historic cost less impairment with any impairment losses going through the Statement of Comprehensive Net Expenditure.

1.9 Other Infrastructure Expenditure

Other infrastructure expenditure is differentiated between capital and resource. The capital expenditure relates to infrastructure expenditure that is capital in nature, but the asset created or enhanced is reflected by either CMAL, HIAL, Network Rail or other external body rather than Transport Scotland. The capital expenditure reflects both direct activity in the year and the costs, in terms of capital and interest, of financing projects undertaken by Network Rail and recovered over a 30 year period.

1.10 Operating Income

Operating income relates directly to the operating activities of Transport Scotland. It principally comprises fees and charges for services provided on a full-cost basis to external customers in both the public and private sectors. It includes not only income retained but also income due to the Consolidated Fund, in accordance with the FReM. Operating income is stated net of VAT.

1.11 Administration and Programme Expenditure

The Statement of Comprehensive Net Expenditure is analysed between administration and programme income and expenditure, in line with the definition of administration costs by HM Treasury.

Administration costs reflect the costs of running the Agency and include staff costs as well as accommodation, communications and office supplies.

Programme costs reflect the costs of operating, maintaining, managing and improving the road, rail, aviation and maritime infrastructure in Scotland for which Transport Scotland has responsibility, as well as expenditure incurred in delivering transport policies such as concessionary fares and grants and subsidies to contribute to the provision of bus, ferry and air services.

1.12 Grants Payable

Grants payable are recorded as expenditure in the period that the underlying activity giving entitlement to the grant occurs. Where necessary obligations in respect of grant schemes are recognised as liabilities.

1.13 Pensions

Past and present employees are mainly covered by the provisions of the Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme (PCSPS), more details of which can be found in note 3. The PCSPS is an unfunded multi-employer defined benefit scheme. Transport Scotland's contributions are recognised as a cost in the year. This complies with IAS26.

1.14 Private Finance Initiative (PFI) Transactions

PFI transactions are accounted for in accordance with the IFRS based FReM. PFI contracts that meet the definition of service concession arrangements are accounted for in accordance with IFRIC12.

Transport Scotland currently has 3 existing completed PFI schemes (see note 16 for more details). In each case these assets are examples of service concessions under IFRIC12. The private sector operator is contractually obliged to provide the services related to the infrastructure on behalf of the Scottish Government.

The infrastructure is recognised as a non-current asset when it comes into use.

The unitary payment is divided into 3 elements, namely service charge, repayment of the capital element of the contract obligation and the interest expense on it (using the interest rate implicit in the contract).

1.15 Leases

At their inception, leases are classified as operating or finance leases, based on the extent to which the risks and rewards of ownership lie with the Agency. In making the classification, the Agency considers whether the land and buildings elements of arrangements which cover both elements need to be separately accounted for.

Arrangements whose fulfilment is dependent on the use of a specific asset or which convey a right to use an asset, are assessed at their inception to determine if they contain a lease. If an arrangement is found to contain a lease, that lease is then classified as an operating or finance lease.

Rentals under operating leases are charged to the Statement of Comprehensive Net Expenditure on a straight line basis over the term of the lease. Where the arrangement includes incentives, such as rent-free periods, the value is recognised on a straight-line basis over the lease term. Where the substantial risks and rewards of ownership are borne by the Agency, the asset is recorded as property, plant and equipment and a liability to the lessor is recorded of the minimum lease payments discounted by the interest rate implicit in the lease. The interest element of the finance lease payment is charged to the Statement of Comprehensive Net Expenditure over the period of the lease at a constant rate in relation to the balance outstanding.

1.16 Provisions

Transport Scotland provides for legal and constructive obligations that are of uncertain timing or amount in the Statement of Financial Position at 31 March 2012 on the basis of the best estimate available. Provisions are charged to the Statement of Comprehensive Net Expenditure unless they will be capitalised as part of additions to non-current assets.

Major Projects

Major projects provision relates to compensation claims made in respect of work done under the projects that have not yet been fully settled.

1.17 Contingent Liabilities

Contingent Liabilities are recognised in respect of:

  • possible obligations arising from past events whose existence will be confirmed by the occurrence of uncertain future events outwith Transport Scotland's control; or
  • present obligations arising from past events where it is not likely that resources will be required to settle the obligation or it is not possible to measure it reliably.

1.18 VAT

Most of the Transport Scotland input VAT on purchases is non-recoverable. Irrecoverable VAT is charged to the relevant expenditure category or included in the capitalised purchase cost of non current assets. To avoid the distortion of competition, VAT can be recovered on certain categories of expenditure under s41 of the VAT Act 1994. Output VAT is charged on any taxable outputs.

Transport Scotland is not separately registered for VAT but is part of the overall Scottish Government VAT registration. The quarterly VAT return is completed centrally by the Scottish Government.

Apart from minor amounts arising from timing differences any outstanding VAT balances are accounted for by the Scottish Government.

1.19 Segmental Reporting

IFRS8 Segmental Reporting requires operating segments to be identified on the basis of internal reports about components of Transport Scotland that are regularly reviewed by the accountable officer who is deemed to be the chief operating decision maker in order to manage their financial performance.

1.20 Trade Receivables

Trade receivables are valued at their carrying amount. A provision for impairment is made where there is objective evidence that Transport Scotland will not be able to collect all amounts due according to the original terms of the receivables.

1.21 Trade Payables

Trade payables are valued at their carrying amount.

1.22 Employee Benefits

A short term liability and expense is recognised for leave entitlement, bonuses and other short-term benefits when the employees render service that increases their entitlement to these benefits. As a result an accrual has been made for leave earned but not taken.