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Local authorities improved performance while mounting Covid response

Local authorities improved their performance across a range of indicators during 2020, despite Covid-19 challenges and while providing additional innovations and services during the pandemic. 

The NOAC Local Authority Performance Indicator Report 2020 shows local authorities made advances last year, in particular in the areas of housing, business supports, and online services. 
Covid-19 placed a considerable burden on local authorities, with a reduction in revenues and strained resources. However, local authorities continued to deliver essential services throughout the pandemic and played an important role in the national response to Covid-19.  
Local authorities established the Community Call service to provide support to those in need of assistance. Between the months of March and December 2020, local authorities received more than 57,000 phone calls seeking support, while local authority staff made almost 23,000 follow-up calls related to these engagements. 
Local authorities also provided a range of new supports and grants to businesses, offered resilience and wellbeing supports to their communities, and worked to facilitate changes to the public realm in the interests of public health and safety. 
Alongside this, local authorities continued to deliver essential services throughout Covid, as the Performance Indicators Report 2020 shows.
  • Local authorities added 3,151 units to the social housing stock in 2020, and by December 2020, local authorities owned and managed 141,128 social housing units.  
  • 86% of motor tax transactions were conducted online in 2020, a significant increase from 77% in 2019.
  • There were 71,871 new users of online eBook and eAudiobook library services in 2020.
  • Local authorities continue to upgrade the energy efficiency of public lighting. As of 2020, 38.8% of all public lighting had been upgraded to energy efficient LED.
  • Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) approved 12,946 trading online vouchers to support businesses to increase their online offering. LEOs also provided mentoring to 15,931 businesses - an increase from 10,756 in 2019. 
  • In 2020, almost €300m was invested by local authorities and the Department of Transport to strengthen local and regional roads, while €67.2m was invested in resealing local and regional roads
  • In 2020 the median number of minutes taken to mobilise the fire brigade in full-time stations to respond to a fire incident was 1 minute 28 seconds. 
  • In 2020, a total of 17,780 community organisations were included in the Public Participation Network (PPN) county registers nationally - an increase of 1,768 organisations since 2019.  
  • There were more than 74 million visits to local authority websites and local authority social media following increased by 23% to 3.9 million in 2020. 
Commenting on the report, Tim Lucey, Chair of the County and City Management Association (CCMA) and Chief Executive of Cork County Council paid tribute to the hard work and dedication of local authority employees, saying:
“Local authorities continued to provide hundreds of services throughout 2020, despite the challenge and uncertainty of Covid-19 and the constraints of public health restrictions. At the same time, we played a vital role in the national response to the pandemic, supporting communities, businesses and local economies.
“We are continually seeking to improve services and increase efficiency and did manage to make progress in a range of areas last year. Now that we are in a more certain situation with regard to Covid, we will build on our progress, continue to innovate and deliver quality public services.”