Over half of net increase in all Council borrowing attributable to Derry: auditor

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Over half of a net increase in all Council borrowing across Northern Ireland in 2015 was attributable to Derry City Council, a report by the Local Government Auditor has found.

An audit of local councils’ accounts, published this morning, shows that the Council’s loan position increased from £31.6m to £46.5m between April 2014 and April 2015 - an increase of £14.9m.

This borrowing made up more than half of the £27.4million increase across the whole of Northern Ireland.

“Total council borrowing was approximately £275 per person (£258 in 2013-14) based on the estimated Northern Ireland population at June 2013,” reported Ms Mason.

“The loan amounts vary considerably between councils, with over half of the net increase attributed to increased borrowing by Derry City Council,” she added.

The details are contained in the Local Government Auditor’s report for 2016.

In reference to overall capital spending the auditor also reports how the local authority, through its Foyle Arena project, accounted for a considerable 59 per cent increase in local government capital expenditure from £91 million in 2013/14 to £145 million in 2014/15.

“The completion of a number of projects accounted for some of this increase, for example, Newry Phase I Leisure Centre and the Foyle Arena at Derry City Council,” the report notes.

Meanwhile, the auditor notes that there was slight increase in absenteeism to 15.21 days at the local authority in 2014/15 compared with 12.64 days in 2013/14.

“During 2014-15 there was a slight increase in overall absenteeism compared with the previous year,” the report states.

“Unfortunately this has begun to indicate an overall rising trend since 2011/12, and the highest overall absentee rate since the 2008/09 financial year,” it adds.

Of 16 Council’s reporting a rise in absenteeism, Derry City Council was one of just eight councils reporting an increase of more than 2.5 days per employee.