SNP - Tom Wills

Charitable trust announces reduced grants

SHETLAND Charitable Trust approved a reduced budget for all its recipient organisations on Thursday.

However upwards of £2 million funding for rural care homes must wait to be confirmed until next year after further negotiations with Shetland Islands Council.

This year the trust warned it would have to cut spending by five per cent a year until 2020 to avoid blowing its capital, interest on which funds most of the sport, leisure and cultural activities within the isles.

Out of grant funding of more than £6 million, more than half will go to Shetland Recreational Trust who receive £3.3 million to run the islands leisure centres, sports facilities and swimming pools.

Heritage body Shetland Amenity Trust will get £1.28 million for its work, including running the Shetland Museum and Archives and the network of rural museums.

Shetland Arts Development Agency, which operates the Mareel cinema and music venue, is to be given £695,000 for the year 2016/7.

Smaller grants are being awarded to special needs social enterprise COPE Ltd (£155,000), third sector body Voluntary Action Shetland (£144,000), and advice centre Citizens Advice Bureau (£132,000).

The Shetland Befriending Scheme is to receive £54,000, bus services for the elderly and disabled will get £48,000, the Royal Voluntary Service will get £47,000 for community projects for the elderly and disabled, while £15,000 will go to the senior citizen’s club.

Charitable trust chairman Bobby Hunter said the elderly, the young and the disadvantaged would benefit most from the grants.

“These are sums of money that no other community in Britain is fortunate enough to have available to spend,” he said.

“Yes, we are reducing our spending between now and 2020, but it’s in a managed fashion to give funded bodies time to adapt.

“The alternative was to continue spending beyond our means – and eventually spending ourselves out of existence.”

The trust recently agreed a four year plan to reduce spending to £8.5 million a year by 2020, which it believes is a sustainable level.

The final piece of the funding jigsaw is the trust’s contribution towards the cost of running Shetland’s network of rural care homes.

This decision has been postponed after council leader Gary Robinson intervened with a letter to all trustees accusing the trust of unilaterally breaching a partnership agreement signed in 2010.

 Robinson says the trust is trying to reduce its contribution to the care homes by £200,000 to £2.3 million, when in fact they should be handing over £2.8 million. The trust said they were seeking discussion with the council before making a final decision in the new year.

Shetland Arts manager Graeme Howell said any reduction was “a pain”, but he fully supported the charitable trust’s approach towards balancing its books.

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