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Trust allays fears

Charitable trust chairman Bobby Hunter receiving the petition from Sandy MacMillan and his wife Gail. Photo: Daniel Lawson

SHETLAND Charitable Trust chairman Bobby Hunter has moved to allay fears over a cut in spending on its Christmas grant scheme after taking delivery of a 1,600-strong petition against the move.

Pensioner Sandy Macmillan presented the petition to the trust on Wednesday morning at its Garthspool offices.

Last year SCT trustees agreed to reduce spending on the scheme – which has paid out millions of pounds to pensioners and disabled folk in the isles for the past three decades – from £375,000 a year to £100,000.

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But Hunter said he felt some of the anger about the change had been misplaced.

“I think there’s been some misunderstandings in how the new scheme would operate,” he told BBC Radio Shetland.

“The money is now going to be means tested, is the word to be used, and if people are found to be in need they will get the money.”

Hunter added that if the £100,000 sum was insufficient to cover all of those in need of the £300 grant “we will definitely go back to trustees and ask for an increase”.

Following a half hour meeting where Hunter explained the scheme, MacMillan said he felt “better” about the situation – but called on the trust to do a better job of informing the public about how it will now operate.

He added: “I’m still concerned for the older people because they’re still thinking the way I [was] thinking.”

When the reduction in spending was agreed in February the trust’s management said it would seek to find new ways to target financial help at the most vulnerable island residents, such as young families struggling with poverty.

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