Hunter explains why trust has set aside cash for PR

Shetland Charitable Trust has budgeted nearly £50,000 for increased administration costs and £14,400 for public relations despite agreeing cuts of almost £400,000 in what it pays out to organisations and charities.

At a meeting earlier today the trust agreed to make disbursement cuts of £389,502 while hearing from one trustee that it should look at cutting more from what it gives to larger trusts that can make money by charging for their services.

The trust’s budget, approved unanimously, outlined an increase in administration expenditure from £652,000 to £699,000 while setting aside £14,400 for continued PR if a three-month trial of using Platform Shetland is deemed successful.

According to the trust’s financial forecasting model “professional” and legal fees will increase by £20,000 each, while bought in services will increase by £18,000.

The trust’s deficit will rise from £1.674m to £1.691m owing to an expected drop in income from £8.18m to £7.82m and despite the cut in disbursements.

According to the trust’s financial plan, agreed in May, its expenditure will reduce to £8.5m over the four years to 2020 to put it on a sustainable footing.

The £360,000 drop in budgeted income was due to uncertainty regarding the level of future gift aid from Shetland Heat Energy and Power Limited.

Trustee Allison Duncan said that if the trust’s financial position was “so parlous” it should look at making further disbursement cuts “across the board” but specifically aiming at the larger trusts it funds who may have other sources of income.

But any review of grants will not take place until May next year, the meeting heard.

Trustee Keith Massey said that given the state of financial markets, the trust “should do everything possible to drive in efficiencies.”

Following the meeting, a press release from Platform Shetland said that the trust had agreed to reduce spending in 2016-17 by just under £400,000 as it “continues to bring the amount it hands out into line with its income”.

The trust will disburse a total of £8,401,050 and management and administration costs are expected to be just under £700,000.

With income forecast to be £7,821,290, it means the trust will still be spending more than it earns.

Trust chairman Bobby Hunter said: “We are phasing in reductions over five years, spending some of our reserves in the process, to minimise the impact on the bodies we fund.

“We are confident of reaching a position by 2020 where we can support spending from income only and do not have to draw on our reserves continually.

“That will mean future generations of folk in Shetland can benefit from the charitable trust funds in the way current and previous generations have.”

Approval of the detailed disbursements planned by the trust was delayed in light of new information that Mr Hunter wanted to give trustees time to consider.

On the question of engagement of a PR company Mr Hunter, said: “We are trying to better explain what the trust is doing and get the message out … and why we are doing it.”

He added that by using a local firm they were  using resources as efficiently as possible. “Trustees are pleased with the results.”

Asked about the cost of administration Mr Hunter said: “The trust is going through a period of reorganisation though to 2017 and that will account for a lot of it.”


Add Your Comment
  • Alan Skinner

    • December 10th, 2015 17:22

    You have got to be kidding. The trustees of Shetland Charitable Trust, which is for the benefit of all Shetland residents, are going to spend £14,000 on PR, in an attempt to make themselves look and sound sensible. In all my years in the trust business, I have never heard anything so ludicrous.

  • Michael Garriock

    • December 10th, 2015 17:31

    They’d better spend their £14,400 damn quick then, and pray to their God(s) of choice that they get value for money and then some, as their PR has been off the bottom of the negative scale for longer than most folk would care to think about, and their preceived reputation as an organisation, worse.

    Then again, were they to operate in a democratic, transparent, engaging, informative and accountable manner in the first place, they’d have £14,400 to hand which they don’t have, which they could have offered to the least fortunate now at the darkest and coldest time of year.

  • Donnie Morrison

    • December 10th, 2015 20:26

    Maybe someone can enlighten me who this new PR firm ‘Platform Shetland’ is? Apparently they are worth £14k of our money so I think the Shetland public have a right to know.

  • James Mackenzie

    • December 11th, 2015 10:58 will tell you all you need to know.

    • Michael Garriock

      • December 11th, 2015 12:54

      No quite. No sign of shareholder/director details on there I can see. Only front (wo)men.

      As the saying goes, if you want to know where the power lies, follow the money.

      • Robert Duncan

        • December 11th, 2015 15:00

        Your attention to detail leaves something to be desired.

        “The Platform Shetland team is led by DIRECTOR Paul Riddell, who is an ex-editor of The Shetland Times and former senior assistant editor of The Scotsman”

        Also see here:

      • John N Hunter

        • December 11th, 2015 16:27

        For more details on the company see here

        Incidentally the Companies (Trading Disclosures) Regulations 2008 state the the company’s full name, registration number and registered company address should be displayed on the website.

      • Michael Garriock

        • December 12th, 2015 22:23

        I don’t believe there’s anything wrong with my attention to detail Robert Duncan, quite the opposite. I saw the statement on their website you have quoted, however as you will note from it it states Mr Riddell is a “Director” with the Company, not that he is a “Director” of the Company. The latter could be accurately described also as the former, but the former cannot necessarily be accurately described as the latter.

        That said, of course researching company profile database sites (which are not linked on their website) confirms Mr Riddell is a Director of the Company, but they also confirm he has a co-director, details of whom appears nowhere on their site.

        More interestingly however, is that they reveal Mr Riddell holds two directorships, and following him through to details of his other directorship makes for the most thought provoking reading of any of it.

  • John Irvine

    • December 11th, 2015 13:41

    The very fact that they are to spend money on PR just goes to show what a pigs meal they are making in running the SRT.

    An absolute disgrace and more waste of public money, how much longer will this go on before there is a vote of no confidence in how the SRT is being run?

  • Allen Fraser

    • December 11th, 2015 14:58

    In the same week that Alistair Carmichael got off with his lie, Shetland Charitable Trust think a PR company is a deserving cause and £14,400 is money well spent to spin for them.
    What a waste of public money by Shetland’s self-serving Scrooges; “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.”

  • ian tinkler

    • December 11th, 2015 15:58

    Had a good laugh recently . PlatformShetland, part of Platform PR, whom list as clients Viking Energy. Now what a huge surprise.

  • Chris Johnston

    • December 11th, 2015 16:54

    From Wikipedia, “Button, button, who’s got the button is an old children’s game where players form a circle with their hands out, palms together. One child, called the leader or ‘it’, takes an object such as a button and goes around the circle, putting their hands in everybody else’s hands one by one. In one person’s hands they drop the button, though they continue to put their hands in the others’ so that no one knows where the button is except for the giver and receiver.
    The leader, or all the children in the circle, says “Button, button, who’s got the button?” and then each child in the circle guesses. The child guessing replies with their choice, e.g. “Billy has the button!”
    Once the child with the button is finally guessed, that child is the one to distribute the button and start a new round.”

    Shetland financial practice of trusts giving money to trusts is reminiscent of this game, and makes it impossible to determine the true financial condition. Perhaps the name should be changed to “Pound, pound, who’s got the pound?”

  • kenneth groat

    • December 11th, 2015 18:43

    Not sure about a wind energy entrepreneur, but there is a nice picture on the site of a large windmill which I understand since being installed the blades have never turned to produce electricity —– could be wrong of course.——- make a fine lighthouse.

  • kenneth groat

    • December 11th, 2015 19:23

    On a more serious note £14,000 being used for PR is a stab in the back for all our youth clubs sports clubs and voluntary organisations throughout Shetland, which have sought financial help and been refused!. The many volunteers who give up their time to help the young and old and disabled in our society. Yes we do live in hard economic times but for the Charitable Trust to refuse money to help keep these much needed clubs going in one hand then in my opinion throw it away to a PR company in another is disgusting and downright shameful.

  • Wayne Conroy

    • December 14th, 2015 15:38

    Really? Spending over 14k on “PR” with Platform PR (who list one of its clients as Viking Energy) The director of which also just happens to be the director of “Energy Isles Ltd”… A company who is relying on the VE project being successful.

    If anything this just makes the charitable trust look even worse.


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