Funding for bus operators, including Stagecoach: FOI release

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

Information requested

(1) What governance arrangements the Scottish government has in place to ensure that it, and thus the people it represents, receive value for money from the operators of the above services;

(2) The outcomes of audits conducted by the Scottish government under their governance arrangements to assure value for money is being obtained;

(3) How much money has been paid to Stagecoach in concessionary fares and any other financial support on the above route (585) over the last year.


The answer to your question (1) is detailed below.

Transport Scotland provides funding for bus operators, including Stagecoach, to support services while networks and demand adapts following the Covid pandemic. This is in the form of the Network Support Grant (NSG) and Network Support Grant Plus (NSG Plus) which Stagecoach participates in.

Further information on these grants can be found on the Transport Scotland website here:

Payments over £25,000 are routinely published on the Transport Scotland website here:

The NSG and NSG Plus grants have been in place since 1 April 2022 and have strict terms and conditions attached to them that participating bus operators must adhere to. Payment is made in advance based on operator forecasts with advance payments adjusted in year for any material change in service kilometres. As part of the conditions of NSG and NSG Plus, every operator must maintain adequate records of service kilometres (kms) run to support all figures submitted in their claim and must make these records available for inspection upon request. Certification of claims is required at scheme or year end and these must be reviewed and signed off by a registered third party accountant.

When we receive a certified claim form, our validation team will complete a Certification report which looks at the following:

• Any material increase/decrease in kms between the operators estimated and certified claims are investigated further.

• Confirm that the claim has been signed off by a certified third party accountant

• Review historical claims covering service kms claimed, number of services and claim value (although NSG is a new grant we would expect the claims under the former BSOG to be similar excluding any service or circumstance changes)

• Review service changes throughout the claim period, including new services, cancelled services and changes to existing services

• All new services are route mapped and timetable checked

• If the operator claims any low carbon or low emissions incentives, vehicle analysis and certificates will be checked.

A validator proposal and recommendation is then provided on any findings from these checks.

A reconciliation process is carried out against all claims and the operator’s final payment is based on the agreed rate per kilometre for all services actually operated. It may also be helpful to know that any payments made are detailed at an individual service level as part of the claim, and not simply a total of all kilometres operated. Therefore, further scrutiny can be applied at service level where required.

As part of Transport Scotland’s processes under the NSG fund management Transport Scotland hold the rights to investigate any claims and review any payments, should there be any inconsistencies or inaccuracies.

The answer to your question (2) is that no such audits have yet been conducted for the Network Support Grant and Network Support Grant Plus as these only started on 1 April 2022. Certification for these schemes will take place at scheme or year end. Therefore we do not have the requested information to be shared.

For your question (3), while our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide the information you have requested because an exemption under section 33(1)(b) of FOISA (commercial interests) applies to that information. This exemption applies because disclosure of this particular information would, or would be likely to, prejudice substantially the commercial interests of Stagecoach. Disclosing this information would be likely to give Stagecoach’s competitors an advantage in future similar tendering exercises, which would substantially prejudice Stagecoach’s ability to submit competitive tenders and so could significantly harm their commercial business.

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 some public interest in release because it provides transparency that spending public funds is achieving value for money. However, this is outweighed by the public interest in the release of sensitive information of a commercially run bus operator.

You may wish to be aware that the 585 service is run under contract to Strathclyde Partnership for Transport. You may want to contact them at for advice regarding your concerns on this specific route.

About FOI

The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at


Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

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