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Hefty drop in investments value ‘swings and roundabouts’

Shetland Charitable Trust headquarters at North Road. Photo: Shetland NewsSCT headquarters on North Road, Lerwick. Photo: Shetland News

THE CHAIRMAN of Shetland Charitable Trust says he is not worried that the value of its investments fell by £20 million in October due to a drop in world equity markets.

Trustees heard at the latest meeting of the charity on Thursday that the value of the externally managed investments fell from £283 million to £263 million during the month.

Political uncertainty, trade disputes and Brexit are said to have “damaged confidence” in the market.

Chairman Bobby Hunter said after the meeting that he is confident the loss will be recovered.

“Obviously you’re concerned when your funds go down, but it’s a general devaluation in the stock market and it’s external activities that’s created that. We’re confident that it will go up again in the near future,” he said.

“So it’s swings and roundabouts – it’s happened before and it will happen again.”

The overall investment return for the trust in the three months to the end of September was 1.6 per cent – nearly half of the benchmark return.

Trustees, meanwhile, signed off the charity’s planned grant pay-outs to the community for 2019/20, with the Shetland folk and accordion & fiddle festivals – as well as the Swan Trust – set to receive no funding from the trust in the next financial year.

The groups have known for some time that their funding would be phased out by the trust as it looks to rein in its outgoings through to 2020.

But on Thursday the removal of funding was set in stone as trustees approved £7,383,167 worth of disbursements for the next financial year.

The Shetland Churches Council Trust will also lose its funding in 2019/20.

Hunter said he did not wish to comment on these groups no longer having funding as the budget had been agreed some years ago.

In line with the previously agreed reductions, organisations like Shetland Amenity Trust, Shetland Arts and the rural care home network will see their funding reduce.

A number of charities and groups will see their funding remain static in 2019/20, however, including Disability Shetland, the local befriending scheme, Voluntary Action Shetland and COPE Ltd.

It comes as trustees heard on Thursday that the organisation’s closing reserves at the end of September this year – before the £20 million drop in investment value – was nearly £314 million.

The Charitable Trust has received and disbursed money paid by the oil industry to the local community since Sullom Voe Terminal began operating in the 1970s.

Scottish Parliament election, 6 May 2021