Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Tuesday, 17 January 2023

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government

Local Government Performance Indicators and Public Spending Code: National Oversight and Audit Commission

Photo of Cian O'CallaghanCian O'Callaghan (Dublin Bay North, Social Democrats) | Oireachtas source

I thank Mr. McCarthy for his response. I appreciate it. The vacancy data in the report is very important. It shows that in 2021 the vacancy rate in local authority owned dwellings in Cavan was 4.6%. Cork city had a rate of almost 4.4%. The rate for Galway county was over 7%, it was more than 4% for Limerick city and county and it was in excess of 7% for Longford county. In contrast, the rate for South Dublin County Council was less than 1%. Those figures show the natural vacancy levels that could be achieved by local authorities. This is in the middle of a housing disaster, and these are important statistics that NOAC produces. They also show most of the county councils with high vacancy levels, unsurprisingly, have very high turnaround times. Cavan county takes 55 weeks to re-let an empty social local authority owned dwelling. Cork city takes 75 weeks, Cork county takes 48 weeks, Galway county takes 65 weeks, Limerick city and county takes 56 weeks and Longford county takes 67 weeks. It takes almost more than a year to re-let homes during a housing disaster. That data is important.

The concern I have is that the NOAC reports have highlighted this issue for a number of years. We have seen some improvements in certain areas, but, in terms of vacancy rates, we are not seeing the kind of improvements we need from outlier local authorities, particularly in view of our housing disaster. Is there any mechanism for NOAC to flag poor performance beyond publishing this information?

Senator Boyhan suggested a system of red, amber and green. He said would not ask Mr. McCarthy for his view on that system. It is a good idea. Can Mr. McCarthy give us his view on it? If we were able to flag some local authorities as outliers in terms of being classed as red, it would create awareness. Unfortunately, making the data available alone has not produced the kind of changes we would like to see. I am trying to explore what else can be done to try to change things.

Mr. McCarthy said if the Minister asked him to look at something else in detail he can do that. Failing a Minister asking him to do something, is there anything else that can be done?


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