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Healthy returns help trust recover

SHETLAND Charitable Trust experienced its best ever return on investments during the last financial year earning almost £50 million on its investments.
The charity set up in the 1970s to handle Shetland’s oil wealth on behalf of the community received returns as high as 40 per cent on the stock exchange.
This followed two bad years when the world’s financial markets experienced one of their worst ever crises that has led to the current global financial crisis.
The trust is now worth more than £217 million, close to its target of £220 million but down from its highest peak of £350 million earlier in the decade.
Around £25 million of the trust’s resources are invested in the local economy, which generated an income of £5 million last year, according to its annual report.
Trust chairman Bill Manson said: “In investment terms this has been one of the best years in the history of Shetland Charitable Trust thanks largely to the recovery in the world’s financial markets.
“We are especially pleased that our investments in the local economy have borne
so much fruit.
“However we have to bear in mind that the markets can be volatile. The previous two years were very poor indeed and there is little certainty about future market trends.
“Further pressure on the trust’s budgets could also result from the current cuts in public sector spending and as Shetland’s population ages, which the forecasts predict, then the current 40 per cent of what we spend on the elderly is likely to grow as years go by.”
The trust supports a wide range of community organisations, including the islands’ leisure and care centres.
It has managed to reduce its annual expenditure to £11 million a year after a review of all the main organisations it funds managed to find £2 million in annual savings with minimal impact on services. Administration costs have been reduced by a third to £600,000 over the past seven years.

Amongst the trust’s main investments last year was £250,000 for the CLAN House appeal for a residential centre in Aberdeen supporting families of cancer patients. It has also spent £2.25 million on developing the Viking wind farm project.