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
Mr. Michael McCarthy:
There is a lot in that note. I will take some of those points back to the relevant working groups and provide updates to the committee. I am delighted to hear Deputy Boyd Barrett reference Mel Reynolds's exercise in comparing and contrasting reports from 2017 to present day. It is an interesting work practice and it is impressive to hear it. We have done that with some in particular sectors but not with all. That like-for-like comparison is food for thought for us. There might be a theme or topic that becomes prevalent all of a sudden. From our perspective in NOAC, we could do a mini best practice seminar to focus on particular areas. For example, if the topic were housing, we could bring the various local authorities that are doing good work in particular areas as platform speakers and all the local authorities that have a different approach who have some very good results. Then, we would invite the wider local authorities and showcase that good practice in that particular sense. That is the extent of our legislative remit, but it allows us to capture an issue that might just become a – topical is not the word – big issue that one could not be predicted at this point in the year.
On stock managed by local authorities. Regarding local government and the stock that is owned and managed by approved housing bodies, AHBs, and why it is excluded from local authorities, for the purposes of the performance indicator, PI, report, the NOAC social housing indicator only records housing stock that is owned, managed and maintained by local authorities. However, I take the Deputy’s point that many AHBs are now effectively taking ownership or developing social housing stock on behalf of the council. I can see the delineation becoming less between the local authority-owned stock. Our current PI is structured in a way that we just look at that, but I am open to collating that information or those data, even though there is no regulator for AHBs. However, on a philosophical level, I take the point that the delineation is becoming less clear.
On the process around how the performance indicators are added to the report, we review the indicators every year and determine whether they require any kind of element of refinement or clarification and introduce new indicators. Two years ago, we introduced climate change and economic development spend. It is of a particular time. It depends on the evolution of the issues affecting local government that we would calibrate our PIs to include, where necessary, collation of data on that particular heading. Again, we cannot predict it now, but in two years’ time there might be an issue that we just could not have thought of. We add to that.
The Deputy made a number of other points at a policy level and I will take those back to our working groups and provide a written update to the committee.