Wellcome Trust makes pledge to spend £900m a year on charities

The Wellcome Trust has boosted the value of its fund to almost £25.9bn despite 'choppier markets' and pledged around £900m a year in charitable spending until at least 2022.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 18th December 2018, 3:51 pm
Updated Tuesday, 18th December 2018, 3:53 pm
The Wellcome Trust funded the Dark Self, an exhibition at York St Mary's by Susan Aldworth, which explored sleep and dreams. Picture: James Hardisty
The Wellcome Trust funded the Dark Self, an exhibition at York St Mary's by Susan Aldworth, which explored sleep and dreams. Picture: James Hardisty

Britain’s biggest charity and medical research institute said it notched up a total return of 13.4 per cent for the year to September 30, or 10.7 per cent after inflation.

It made pre-tax net income of £2.2bn, flat on the previous year.

The group – the main source of non-Governmental biomedical research in the UK – said it has now returned 11.7 per cent on average on its investments in the 10 years since the financial crisis.

It said its performance means it can vow to spend around £900m a year on average until 2022 from its primary fund, which covers most of its charitable activities.

Another £200m will also be made available for priority areas and other large-scale, high-impact activities such as drug resistant infections and mental health, it added.

But the trust cautioned investment returns recorded since the 2008 financial crisis will not continue.

Nick Moakes, chief investment officer and managing partner of the investment division at Wellcome, added: “As the global economic cycle matures, markets have become more volatile.

“Our global focus and long-term horizon have helped us navigate a choppier environ- ment.

“The decade since the global financial crisis has seen very strong investment returns, which we do not expect to be repeated over the next 10 years.”

In its annual report, the group said its spending on charities over the year to September 30 fell sharply to £723m from £1.2bn in 2016-17 but it said this was largely down to the timing of significant spending commit- ments.

Trust chairwoman Baroness Manningham-Buller said: “I am pleased to report that, once again, our investments have done well.

“The performance of our portfolio in more difficult global markets has provided the ability for us to increase our charitable commitment over the last 10 years.

“Our sincere thanks go to the investment team for the part that they have played in making this possible.”

The organisation was set up in 1936.

It was launched after the death of pharmaceutical entrepreneur Sir Henry Wellcome, who left the entire share capital of his company to trustees charged with spending income to further human and animal health.

The Wellcome Trust has strong ties with Yorkshire.

Last year, the trust funded The Dark Self, an exhibition at York St Mary’s which explored sleep, dreams, consciousness.

The exhibition by acclaimed artist Susan Aldworth was the culmination of her three-year residency with the University of York.

The installation, One Thousand and One Nights, featured 414 pillowcases hanging from the ceiling of the nave.