Organisations and charitable schemes that are currently funded to the tune of £11 million annually by Shetland Charitable Trust will see that funding dwindle to £8.5 million by 2020, the trust decided yesterday.
The latest cutbacks, that created divisions in the trust earlier this year, were confirmed by a meeting of the trust at Islesburgh before its brief annual general meeting.
It continues the trust’s policy of attempting to maintain a cash “pot” that will be passed on to future generations and led to the trust cutting back its spending by £1.2 million annually in the three years till April 2015. It plans a “standstill” budget till next April when a disbursements review is completed.
A report by trust chief executive Ann Black says that it was “felt that that maximum expenditure of £11 million in the previous financial plan did not allow the trust to be sustainable.”
An introduction by chairman Bobby Hunter says that “the planned reduction in expenditure will allow the trust to be self-sustainable by 2020 and protect the reserves of the trust against inflation for future generations.”
This means that the trust will not spend any more than the amount its funds have grown after inflation is taken into account, so that the value of its fund will not diminish in real terms.
To achieve its reductions the trust will use £2m of its reserves while the funding reductions are implemented.
Figures for the financial year till April 2015 show that while the trust’s three biggest beneficiaries; Shetland Recreational Trust, Shetland Amenity Trust and Shetland Arts Trust, spend every penny of the money allocated to them, some of the trust’s smaller dependants, such as Voluntary Action Shetland and a variety of local charitable organisations underspent their funding.
Mr Hunter said after the meeting that the trust was making good progress towards financial sustainability and had seen its investment funds grow significantly in the past year.
But trustee Allison Duncan was furious that an attempt to have a contingency fund for the Citizen’s Advice Bureau debated was thwarted at the meeting, which stuck to its written agenda.
Mr Duncan said: “In exceptional circumstances we should be able to give them more funding but there is a reluctance on the part of certain members to debate this. They seem to think we should stick to the four-year plan, so that would appear to be a refusal. I’m not very happy about this at all. It should be taken before the trustees and questions asked.”
He said that the CAB was a “brilliant” organisation that had helped clients take up £800,000 in welfare benefits – money that is spent in the Shetland economy. Additionally, the CAB provided invaluable advice on employee rights, financial hardship and many other topics.
But Mr Hunter said later that there was no point deciding on a plan and not abiding by it.
He added that the budget had been set by the trust in “very extensive consultation” with all the bodies that are affected.
“We are setting a plan for what these organisations are going to get over the next four years and when you add that up, that’s the money we are going to spend,” he said.
He added that the trust was in the process of appointing a media “advisor” but that he would remain as the spokesman for the organisation, while the appointee would have only an advisory role.