The Society once again finished the year in a better financial position than it had anticipated. For the second year running, its attempt to spend some of its accumulated reserves was only partially successful. Its income was slightly above the forecast, at £26,028, but expenditure, at £28,478, was some £3,000 below the budgeted figure. This meant that less than half the anticipated £5,500 had to be taken from the surplus income of previous years. Following the decision of Lloyds TSB Bank no longer to pay interest on charity current accounts, more funds have been transferred from the current account to the interest-paying reserve account, taking it to £21,000 at the end of the year.

As usual, the Society’s main expenditure was on grants and publications. At over £14,000 (including grants for lectures and concerts), expenditure on grants was some £3,000 higher than last year, though still £2,000 below budget. The unsatisfactory response to the advertised Research Scholarship was partly responsible for the under-spend. Submissions of material for possible publication were also disappointing, leading to expenditure which was nearly £1,500 (or 20%) below budget. Sales of publications dropped by £600 (35%), and this trend is likely to continue.
The Society’s overall fund balance rose to £367,600, more than recovering the drop last year. The slight improvement in the stock market since March 2003 was reflected in a gain of just over £5,000 in the value of the Society’s investments, compared with last year’s net loss of almost £3,000. Income from investments rose again, by £2,000, though that was offset to some extent by a reduction of £400 in interest from bank accounts. The proportion of our funds invested in convertible and other fixed interest securities has been reduced but remains substantial; similarly, most of the equities are in cash-generating and other defensive sectors. These measures have helped to protect both our capital and income in the recent volatile times. As the global economic situation allows, our team of investment managers at Carr Sheppards Crosthwaite, led by Maria Neary, will adjust the portfolio to invest in a wider spread of equities again. The Council is most grateful to the team for their continuing excellent stewardship of the Society’s investment portfolio.

At the AGM in December 2002, members approved a resolution to increase the annual subscription to £15 from October 2003. However, since the Council has not needed to use the surplus income of previous years to the extent foreseen at that time, it has decided to suspend the implementation of the increase until October 2004. In the meantime, it is undertaking a survey of members to ascertain their views on the actual and potential benefits of membership.

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