National Trust increased spending by £142m last year
Total spending at the National Trust went up by £142m to £722.3m as the charity took a planned dip into its reserves to support its conservation work, new figures show.
The charity’s annual accounts, for the year to the end of February 2023, show the National Trust increased its spending on conservation projects by more than £30m year on year as part of a commitment to invest nearly £500m over three years.
Conservation spending reached £179.6m in 2022/23, a record high for the charity.
This accounted for 65 per cent of total project expenditure over the course of the year, which was also a record high at £279m.
The charity said it “budgeted to utilise some reserves in order to continue the ambitious conservation programme in 2022/23”.
The trust says it intends to continue this tactic in the future because “there are phases where the trust will plan to deliver additional conservation work” that will require the use of its cash reserves.
Total income increased by £30.4m year on year to £681.9m in 2022/23.
This included £110.4m from fundraising and £276.5m from membership income, which stayed at a consistent level from the year before with 5.7 million members.
Hilary McGrady, director-general of the trust, said: “The record funds we dedicated in the last financial year reflects the National Trust’s enduring commitment to the beautiful historic places in its care, and the nation’s enthusiasm for this.
“We were able to make this significant investment during a particularly difficult economic environment, with rising costs and continued recovery from the pandemic, thanks to the millions of people who support our cause.
“Despite the challenges, our priority has been preserving the historic houses, buildings, gardens and collections in our care, for current and future generations to enjoy.”
She said: “This has been yet another challenging year, as prices have continued to rise and personal finances have been put under intense pressure.
“I’m delighted that people are so dedicated to spending their time and money with us during these difficult times, and that the National Trust’s charitable mission continues to resonate deeply with so many people.”
Voting has begun in the National Trust’s advisory council election, with some hopefuls receiving backing from campaign group Restore Trust. The group was set up to lobby for the “[National] Trust’s focus and priorities not to be driven by modish, divisive ideologies but rather solely by its noble mandate”.
RT, which is backed by the seven-time failed parliamentary candidate Nigel Farage as well as the Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, wants to see Philip Gibbs, Andrew Gimson, Lady Violet Manners, Philip Merricks and the former Supreme Court judge Lord Sumption elected to the National Trust’s council.
The charity has not endorsed any of the RT candidates for election.
Celia Richardson, director of communications for the trust, posted on X: “Campaigners claim the National Trust needs to be ‘returned to its real mission.’ Meanwhile the trust has again broken its records for fundraising and conservation investment.
“It’s an enduring national success story, thanks to millions of members, donors and volunteers.”