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SCT breaching care home deal, says SIC leader

SIC leader Gary Robinson - Photo: Malcolm Younger/Millgaet Media

A ROW is brewing between Shetland Islands Council and Shetland Charitable Trust over how much the charity has agreed to contribute towards running the isles’ extensive network of rural care centres.

In a hard-hitting letter sent to all 15 trustees and seen by Shetland News, council leader Gary Robinson is accusing the trust of failing to honour a partnership agreement between the two bodies, leaving the council out of pocket by up to half a million pounds.

The trust is proposing to pay £2.3 million toward the rural care model in 2016/17, a reduction of almost £200,000 compared to the current financial year.

Taking account of inflation since 2010, the SIC should expect a contribution nearer £2.8 million to help with the cost of running the network of small care centres dotted around the isles.

Speaking from Edinburgh Airport on Monday, Robinson said: “Our concern is that we entered into a partnership agreement with the charitable trust back in 2010 but the trust has now unilaterally breached this.

“The amount of money has been reduced year on year, although the partnering agreement actually also made provision for inflationary increases each year.

“We have never pressed the trust on the inflationary increases – it has been a standstill for some time – but the reductions in funding were not agreed with the council.”

He said a further cut in the trust’s contribution would inevitably have an impact on the equality of care delivered.

Robinson added that he had sent the letter to all trustees rather than the management to make sure that each trustee individually understood what the charitable trust had signed up to.

“There have been significant changes in the structure of the trust since the partnership agreement has been entered into and I thought it would be helpful and legitimate to write individually to the trustees,” he said.

Shetland Charitable Trust said on Monday that there was ”no row” between the two bodies.

Trust chairman Bobby Hunter said: “Trustees received a letter from the SIC’s political leader on the issue of funding for care homes on the day of their last meeting (Thursday, 10 December).

“In order to give trustees time to consider the content of this letter, the chief executive, vice-chairman and I decided the best course of action was to withdraw the paper on disbursements from the agenda.”

The trust will now meet again this Thursday to agree disbursements to all organisations they part-fund apart other than for care homes.

“In the meantime, we will continue to work with the council to update our rural care model Partnership Agreement and in due course we will bring a paper before trustees for their consideration.”