Community funds invested by Shetland Charitable Trust (SCT) to pay for improving life in the islands have climbed £19.4 million so far this financial year, reaching £396.4m.
Trustees heard of the more positive up-to-date picture when they met on Thursday to review the trust’s annual performance for 2022/23, which was a turbulent period on the world stock markets.
Inflation and “geo-political tensions” – notably the war in Ukraine – hit the trust so bad last year it wiped £58 million from the reserves, which SCT aims to grow to generate its annual income.
Chair Robert Leask said inflation continued to be a concern in this financial year, together with the “relatively flat performance” of global markets.
He said: “Trustees are aware that markets are still in a period of volatility but the trust is in the fortunate position of being a long-term investor. Historical trends have, to date, ensured that funds will recover in the future.”
The annual report and accounts for the year to 31st March show that the slump in value to £377m left SCT in the unusual position of earning nothing from its year’s activities on the world markets.
However, it did bank around £½ million from its Shetland investments, including land rental at Sullom Voe and a profit from the district heating scheme.
Despite the market volatility, SCT still managed to exceed its growth target of 6.5 per cent, recording a 9.3 per cent return over a five-year period.
SCT was able to avoid cutting back its spending budget last year of £13.1m. Major grants worth nearly £8.6m were awarded to 28 larger organisations with the social care service and the three big service trusts (recreational, amenity and arts) accounting for £7m (83 per cent). Almost £687,000 was shared between three of the bigger charities – the Shetland Islands Citizens Advice Bureau, the social enterprise COPE Ltd and Voluntary Action Shetland.
On top of the grants for running costs, SCT paid out over £2.7m towards the repair of major public buildings and from a contingency fund set up to help the big trusts cope with the income lost during the Covid lockdown.
In his introduction to the annual report, Mr Leask paid tribute to the “truly effective team” of staff and trustees, including the seven new faces on the board whom he described as “high calibre”.
SCT has begun work on its next financial strategy which is due to be agreed next year and will shape spending plans for 2025-2030.
Contact: John Robertson
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