Our reserves policy is set to ensure that our work is protected from the risk of disruption at short notice due to lack of funds, or indeed sudden pressures on the Army and its people in this very uncertain world. At the same time, we need to ensure that we do not hold income or capital for longer than required – but equally we must ensure that we can meet our strategic imperative to act for ‘the long haul’.
Much of our reserves are held as Restricted or Designated funds, meaning they are held against a specific purpose. These include substantial funds such as the Northern Ireland Special Relief Fund, the Falklands Fund and the Afghanistan Fund, which are solely for soldiers and families affected by these conflicts, and we are privileged to administer these funds on behalf of the nation. We willingly absorb the associated costs related to managing these funds in the interest of efficiency, partnership and collaboration – ensuring that optimal financial support is available and delivered to those in need.
Designated funds also include money that has been set aside to ensure we, and by extension the wider Army family of Regimental and Corps charities, can meet the needs of our current and future beneficiaries against potential future risks. This remains the fundamental purpose of The Soldiers’ Charity – established as it was to act as the Army’s benevolence reserve in time of exceptional need.
Our Designated funds also cover LIBOR funding that will be disbursed for specific projects; and a sum to cover our eventual relocation from the current head office. The latter is a strategic issue for us, given our role as landlord to the eight co-located charities, and our continuing wish to drive efficiency across the sector.
The balance of our reserves is held in Unrestricted funds, which are the resources The Soldiers’ Charity has available for its general purposes once it has met its planned expenditure commitments. As at the end of FY17-18, our Unrestricted fund is at a level that would allow us to carry out our work for just over 15 months in the event of our income ceasing entirely.