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Community / Charitable trust set to disperse extra funds

SHETLAND Charitable Trust could increase its annual spending by as much as one million pounds to £8.3 million in 2020/21 if a new financial strategy is being approved by trustees on Thursday.

The trust said on Monday that thanks to a tighter rein on its spending over recent years, combined with a revised investment strategy, reserves have grown to over £300 million.

Describing the community fund as “healthy and “self-sustaining”, the trust is now proposing a five year spending strategy that could see its budget rise to as much as £11.1 million by 2024/25.

Shetland Charitable Trust chairman Andrew Cooper. Photo: Chris Cope/Shetland News

Trust chairman Andrew Cooper said: “The trust was criticised for making the tough decision to squeeze spending and try to put its house in order.

“The wisdom of that approach is now there for all to see – and for the next generation of islanders to put to good use.”

He continued by saying that the picture could have been spectacularly different had the trust not halted its chronic overspending habits during the 1990s when grants of £16 million a year were being disbursed to local trusts and community groups.

With reserves plunging to £150 million in 2008/9 after the stock market crash, trustees were spending themselves out of existence, he said.

The bulk of trust grant aid helps to meet the annual funding costs of local organisations, including large and influential bodies like Shetland Recreational Trust, Shetland Amenity Trust and Shetland Arts, which will now have to demonstrate in their applications what they are doing to reduce inequality and social exclusion in the community.

Trustees of the charitable trust are set to consider these annual funding applications in November.

Since the trust began in 1976, the charitable trust has paid out over £320 million to organisations in Shetland, aiming to improve the quality of life for all people in Shetland.

Thursday’s public meeting of the charitable trust will be held at Islesburgh Community Centre at 5.30pm.