Publication - FOI/EIR release

COVID Support Grant-Restart (CSG-R): FOI release

Published: 20 Jan 2021

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

Published:
20 Jan 2021
COVID Support Grant-Restart (CSG-R): FOI release
FOI reference: FOI/202000124456
Date received: 1 Dec 2020
Date responded: 30 Dec 2020
Information requested

1. All CSG-R Payments - every operator who has received CSG-R

  • Split by route or service number or some other identifier which makes clear the route for which the operator has received CSG-R
  • Split by date, ideally by each individual day.

2. All legal advice regarding the initial implementation of the scheme and then ongoing legal advice since the scheme's inception.  

  • This would include legal advice regarding proposed changes to the scheme both historically and looking forward

3. Information on where Transport Scotland or the Government have modified the routes an operator has run which should cover the augmentation, cancellation, or alteration of routes across all operators.

Response

Transport Scotland does not hold some of the information requested. However, where possible the relevant information has been provided below in response to each of the points you have requested.

1. All CSG-R Payments - every operator who has received CSG-R

  • Split by route or service number or some other identifier which makes clear the route for which the operator has received CSG-R
  • Split by date, ideally by each individual day.

During the pandemic, which has severely affected both demand and capacity, we have temporarily replaced the Bus Service Operators Grant with the COVID Support Grant (CSG) and the COVID Support Grant-Restart (CSG-R).

These grants are intended to cover net costs, including to remobilise vehicles following the initial national lockdown in Spring 2020. The CSG-R grant does not allow participating operators to make a profit and is subject to a periodic reconciliation process at which excess payments are recovered or underpayments topped up.

Section 17(1) of FOISA (information not held) requires the Scottish Government to notify you if it does not have some of the information you requested. The Scottish Government does not have the information you have asked for because a condition of the CSG-R payment is that operators run a specified number of kilometres per week across the country and so we do not hold payment information by individual day or date. The CSG-R scheme is not specific to individual routes so we also do not hold payment information at route level.

This is a formal notice under section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested.

Transport Scotland publishes details of all payments over £25,000. Details of those payments as they relate to CSG-R are on the Transport Scotland website under the category ‘Other bus Expenditure’:
https://www.transport.gov.scot/about/expenditure/.

I am providing you (attached alongside this response) with details of all payments made as part of CSG-R to date including payments under £25,000.

Please note that CSG-R is provided based on advance estimates with periodic reconciliations undertaken to identify over- and underpayments. A reconciliation for the first twelve weeks of the scheme (22/06/2020-13/09/2020) has been completed but all subsequent payments are still to undergo reconciliation and possible repayment or top up payments may be required.

2. All legal advice regarding the initial implementation of the scheme and then ongoing legal advice since the scheme's inception.

  • This would include legal advice regarding proposed changes to the scheme both historically and looking forward

An exemption under section 36(1) of FOISA (confidentiality in legal proceedings) applies to some of the information requested because it is legal advice and disclosure would breach legal professional privilege.

This exemption is subject to the ‘public interest test’. Taking account of all the circumstances of this case, I have considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption. I have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemption. I recognise that there is some public interest in release as part of open and transparent government, and to inform public debate. However, this is outweighed by the strong public interest in maintaining the right to confidentiality of communications between legal advisers and clients, to ensure that Ministers and officials are able to receive legal advice in confidence, like any other public or private organisation.

3. Information on where Transport Scotland or the Government have modified the routes an operator has run which should cover the augmentation, cancellation, or alteration of routes across all operators.

Section 17(1) of FOISA (information not held) requires the Scottish Government to notify you if it does not have some of the information you requested. The Scottish Government does not have the information you have asked for because Transport Scotland and the Scottish Government have not issued any Service Variation Notices under CSG-R Public Service Contract terms to modify routes of operation. This is a formal notice under section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested.

About FOI

The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at http://www.gov.scot/foi-responses.

Contact

Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Email: ceu@gov.scot
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road
Edinburgh
EH1 3DG