Contract subsidy level and payments to Argyll Ferries: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

FOI reference: FOI/17/02343
Date received: 12 October 2017
Date responded: 23 November 2017

Information requested

Can Transport Scotland provide all the relevant information/explanation which explains and details the difference, on a contract year basis, between the initial contract subsidy level adding the value of contract variations and the actual subsidy payments to Argyll Ferries.


There are a variety reasons that contribute to differences between the initial contracted subsidy amount, plus any contract variations and the actual subsidy amount. One such example being that during the lifetime of the contract, operating costs have increased due to increased maintenance and fuel costs. The details of these costs and their variances from original contracted subsidy are commercially sensitive to the operator and are exempt under Section 33(1)(b). Similar requests have been referenced in previous Freedom of Information requests you have submitted, and the reasons for non-disclosure.

Notwithstanding this, as way of an explanation to your specific query some contract variations that were incurred and agreed have been incorporated into the contract over the life term of the current service via the annually negotiated Base Case. This has increased the annual and total subsidy overall from initial contracted subsidy.

Reasons for not providing information

Section 33(1)(b) – Commercial interests.

An exemption under section 33(1)(b) of FOISA (commercial interests) applies to some of the financial information requested associated with your request. This exemption applies because disclosure of this information would, or would be likely to, prejudice substantially the commercial interests of Argyll Ferries Ltd.

This exemption is subject to the 'public interest test'. Therefore, taking account of all the circumstances of this case, we have considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemption. We recognise that there is a public interest in disclosing information as part of open and transparent government, and to help account for the expenditure of public money. However, there is a greater public interest in protecting the commercial interests of Argyll Ferries Ltd to ensure that we are always able to obtain the best value for public money.

Argyll Ferries Ltd operate a service under contract to the Scottish Ministers that was won following a competitive tendering exercise and also faces competition from your company, Western Ferries, for carriage of passengers. Disclosing their financial information would be likely to place Argyll Ferries Ltd, or their parent company David MacBrayne Ltd or any other subsidiary companies in the group, at a competitive disadvantage in any future tendering exercises.

About FOI

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Please quote the FOI reference

Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road

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