DCC owed £249 for every person in city

LONDONDERRY’S local authority owed £26.9m at the end of March 2011 - a £2.8m year-on-year increase - and £249 for every child, woman and man living in the city.

Throughout Northern Ireland the amount of Local Government borrowing still outstanding at March 31, 2011, was £449m, a decrease of more than £9m from March 31, 2010.

Across the province Council borrowing was £248 per person based on population- a little less than the Londonderry average.

The figures are contained in the Northern Ireland Audit Office’s (NIAO) annual ‘Report by the Chief Local Government Auditor.’

The report shows that the local authority had managed to reduce the amount of days lost through sickness and absenteeism over the past number of years.

In 2010/11 13 days per employee were lost at Derry City Council. This was down from 15 in 2009/10.

The local authority has also managed to increase the amount of invoices paid to suppliers within both a 30 day and 10 day limit between 2010/11 and 2011/12.

Sixty-nine per cent of increases were paid within 30 days last year, compared with 66 per cent in 2010/11.

Thirty-nine per cent of invoices were paid within 10 days, compared with 33 per cent in 2010/11.

The Chief Local Government Auditor Louise Mason today (Wednesday, December 2012) published her report on the exercise by local government auditors of their functions in the year up to March 2012.

She highlighted areas of strength and areas for improvement across a range of local Councils.

In terms of prompt payment of invoices, which has improved in Londonderry, Mrs Mason concluded: “Although prompt performance has generally improved, there are still areas where performance is far from satisfactory.”

She recommended: “Local Councils should review payment processes to ensure that the time taken to pay suppliers is minimised and the targets and guidance set by the Department of Environment (DoE) is followed.”

Better performance in this area has the potential to significantly improve cash flow for local firms providing services to Councils, she stated.

Absenteeism has also improved in Londonderry. For several years the Chief Local Government Auditor published a series of annual reports on absenteeism in Northern Ireland Councils, the most recent being for the 2009/10 year.

Mrs Mason has not prepared an annual report on absenteeism for 2010/11 but she has drawn attention to continuing improvements based on unaudited information supplied by Councils.

The Report reveals that nineteen Councils - including Londonderry - improved their performance and notes that continuing this trend is particularly important given the current economic environment.

The report asks Councillors and Officers of local government bodies to consider the matters outlined and review how their Council is approaching the issues.

The Chief Local Government Auditor considers this will assist organisations to improve upon future financial management and governance arrangements.