Sustrans delivery of the Places for Everyone Programme: FOI release

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

Information requested

You asked for a range of information in relation to Sustrans’ delivery of the Places for Everyone Programme.


I enclose a copy of most of the information you requested. While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance the Scottish Government does not have some of the information you have requested. The reasons why we don’t have the information are explained below where appropriate.

Taking all your questions in turn:

Based on Sustrans’ annual reports, Scottish Government/Transport Scotland grants/contracts accounted for 67% of Sustrans’ income five years ago in 2017/2018 which has steadily increased to 75% (£82m) in 2021/22:
Which former and current ministers have been made aware of this by officials and when?

No ministers have been made aware of this by officials; whilst we are aware we do not consider this relevant to the grant funded work that Sustrans undertake in Scotland.

Is there any guideline that suggests a maximum proportion of income that a grant should account for?

There are no guidelines on this.

Does the Scottish Government have any legal or ethical obligation to prevent any risk of Sustrans being financially unstable if/when the current grant ends?

Yes, Scottish Government finances are governed by Scottish Public Finance Manual (SPFM); a number of clauses are included into all grant awards to protect Scottish Government funds.

Please provide details of the processes that led to Sustrans receiving historic and current grants to administer funding and deliver services for on-road active travel schemes, such as Places for Everyone.

Sustrans first received funding from the Scottish Government to develop the National Cycle Network (NCN) in 2003; NCN funding has continued since then. Sustrans received additional funding in 2006 to develop a funding stream for a programme of infrastructure projects for local authorities to delivered Safer Routes to schools. In 2011, this work was expanded into the Community Links programme that funded local authorities to deliver safer cycling and walking infrastructure projects (both on and off road).

What experience and expertise Sustrans evidenced for design and implementation of on-road infrastructure (as opposed to off-road path networks) to be awarded their first grant for this type of work?

I have been unable to find any documents in our archives that confirms why this funding was granted for on road projects following the NCN awards.

A list of grants Sustrans has been awarded for on-road active travel schemes

Please see separate table provided.

Which processes to award the grants were competitive?

None of these processes were competitive.

If the processes were competitive, then how many other administrators were considered and who were they?


If the processes were not competitive then the documented rationale and approvals for that?

The grant process is not competitive. The Scottish Government is committed to supporting the third sector, which includes charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups, deliver essential services and help to improve people's wellbeing and contribute to economic growth. More information can be found here: Third sector - (

Details of the monitoring and evaluation of this grant to inform future grants or different funding or procurement models, and the dates of that?

Sustrans has been receiving annual grants for a number of years. A condition of that grant is that they provide update reports each quarter (end of June, September, December, March) to confirm that they are meeting the terms of the grant for a range of different projects. Our teams meet with them monthly for more regular updates to discuss the progress and manage any risks or issues. A further condition of the grant is that Sustrans must provide an evaluation report for their entire programme by end of September following each grant year. Sustrans will put forward proposals for future funding years towards the end of a calendar year (dates will vary) where both they and TS will consider evaluation reports and impact on future programmes.

How the Scottish Government is ensuring the process for awarding the grant for running Places for Everyone provides best value for the taxpayer?

As above, the SG teams meets with Sustrans to monitor and evaluate Sustrans programmes regularly, and ensure lessons learned from evaluations are carried into future funding years, Our grant process is regularly audited by Audit Scotland

How the Scottish Government is ensuring no organisation has an unfair advantage when competing for active travel grants, as Sustrans has several current and former staff on secondment or employed by councils, has a section in their annual report where they detail the level of influence they have had over Scottish Government policy, has secured a speaker slot for Patrick Harvie at the UK Sustainable Transport Alliance ‘greenzone’ event at COP26 and is also involved in research to measure the effectiveness of projects in which it has been involved either directly or indirectly?

Sustrans has set criteria and conditions that delivery partners must adhere to to be considered for funding for active travel projects. Decisions on grant awards to local authorities and other statutory bodies are made by a Sustrans Panel that includes a number of independent members, as well as a Transport Scotland road engineer.

As it is a statutory function for local authorities to manage and maintain roads, why have some elements of road management and maintenance (e.g. road design which impacts vehicle access, provision of gritters for cycle lanes) been outsourced to be controlled by a charity via a grant, rather than: being outsourced by the Scottish Government via a standard procurement process for a service contract; or the Scottish Government simply transferring funding direct to local authorities for them to allocate funds to projects in a way that best meets their needs, thereby removing middle-man costs?

Local authorities are responsible for the management of all local roads and paths as set out in the Roads (Scotland) Act 1984. None of this has been outsourced to Sustrans. Local authorities receive a block grant each year to undertake maintenance of roads and paths in their area. Where Sustrans provide funding to local authorities to deliver active travel projects, Sustrans also provides a range of support for local authorities depending on their needs, which can include design work.

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

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

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