National Trust posts record income of £634.3m

Its accounts for the year to the end of February show income up by almost £40m on the previous year, with expenditure up from £605.5m to £653.1m

Visitors at Lyme Park, a National Trust property in Cheshire
Visitors at Lyme Park, a National Trust property in Cheshire

The National Trust’s income rose by almost £40m last year to a record high of £634.3m, the charity’s latest accounts show.

The accounts for the year to 28 February 2019, which were published today, also show that expenditure rose to £653.1m from £605.5m the year before.

An increase of almost £15m in legacies – up from £51.9m to £66.5m – and a large rise in membership income, from £219.8m to £243.4m, were major reasons for the rise in income, the accounts show.

Membership levels rose by approximately 400,000 to 5.6 million, with 26.9 million visits made to National Trust properties over the course of the year.

The rise in membership levels comes after the introduction of two member schemes, with one leading to 28,000 under-15s joining the charity for £10 a year, and another helping 26,000 people adopt a free essential companion card for visitors in need of care or support.

The charity’s income levels have risen dramatically in recent years, from £460.3m in 2013/14.

The charity said it spent £148m on conservation projects and restoration works in 2018/19, with the charity having a property portfolio incorporating more than 500 historic houses, gardens, parks and countryside spanning 248,000 hectares of land and 780 miles of coastline.

Last year, the charity took out a £100m loan to fund improvements to visitor facilities at its properties.

Once losses on the charity’s defined-benefit pension scheme and other losses on investments were taken into account, the National Trust had a deficit of almost £35.6m for the year covered by the accounts.

The charity had total funds of £1.4bn, the accounts show.

The charity’s 65,000 volunteers accounted for 4.8 million hours of donated time, according to the accounts, and 95 per cent of volunteers recommended volunteering for the National Trust.

Sharon Pickford, director of support and revenue at the National Trust, said the rise in membership was "not only great news for the National Trust as a charity, but also for the hundreds of special places that we look after".

She added: "However, we aren’t complacent and we know there are many more people who might like the opportunity to access and enjoy what we have to offer. We will continue working to provide events and activities that cater for a wide spectrum of the public, while ensuring we look after special places in our care."

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