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Council receives positive audit overview of financial outturn report

25 September 2018

Members of Derry City and Strabane District Council’s Assurance, Audit & Risk Committee were today informed that the Northern Ireland Audit Office has completed its annual audit of Council’s financial statements and provided a non-qualified audit opinion.  The Audit Office confirmed no adjustments have been required to the significantly positive outturn report that was presented to Members back in June which highlighted a £3.612m surplus for the year ending 31 March 2018.

Members attending the meeting at the Guildhall today, were advised that the auditor did make a small number of management recommendations which have all been taken on board and a robust action plan put in place to ensure full compliance.

Members were also informed that reference was made in Council’s accounts to the going concern position of City of Derry Airport and how there continues to be uncertainty around the status of the airport and concern in respect of insufficient funding for the London airport route post May 2019. The auditor recommended that Council continues with its efforts to work through the possible alternatives in an effort to reach a timely resolution to the issues.

Welcoming the auditor’s report, the Chairman of the Committee Cllr Kieran McGuire said the successful completion of the report with no financial adjustments was very positive news and was reflective of the prudent financial management and improved efficiency processes carried out by officers.

He said: “I welcome the fact that this process has been successfully completed with only a small amount of management review to take place. While the issue around funding of the City of Derry Airport London route was raised as a significant risk, members are pleased that officers will continue with their efforts to continue with their discussions to secure funding for the route.”

Council’s Lead Finance Officer, Alfie Dallas outlining details of the report at the meeting explained that a number of recommendations in relation to IT controls, centralised procurement procedures, and revenue control were made in the audit report.  All of these recommendations have been accepted by management and action plans are in place to ensure the recommendations are implemented in a timely manner.

In relation to the City of Derry Airport, he assured members that Council is continuing with its significant efforts to secure funding for the London route and that discussions are ongoing with the Department for Transport in London and relevant senior civil servants with a view to the London PSO being tendered later this year.

He explained: “These discussions will also explore medium term funding options for CODA beyond 2021. On the basis of these discussions to date Council remains hopeful that funding will be released and that it, along with Council’s current subsidy, will be sufficient to fund the airport at its current level of operation until 31 March 2021. In the event that these funds are not secured, Council’s current subsidy will be sufficient to meet the cost of operations at a reduced level for a minimum period of six months after May 2019, where the viability of the airport over the shorty and medium term will be considered and appropriate actions taken.”