This short piece will provide a useful commentary on some of the key datasets and sources that can be used to develop the Socio-Economic Baseline that will act as a key resource in the Preparation stage of the new LECPs.


The purpose of the Local and Economic Community Plan (LECP), as provided for in the Local Government Reform Act 2014, is to set out, for a six-year period, the objectives and actions needed to promote and support the economic development and the local and community development of the relevant local authority area, both by itself directly and in partnership with other economic and community development stakeholders. The establishment of an LECP will be an important step in advancing the purpose of local government , as highlighted in the Action Programme for Effective Local Government – Putting People First "to promote the well-being and quality of life of citizens and communities". This vision should inform the work of each LECP which should be as action focussed as possible and delivered through programmes by various stakeholders as well as the local authority.

It is expected that the process for the development of the LECPs will consist of four broad phases: (1) Preparation; (2) Public consultation; (3) Development of objectives and actions; and (4) Finalisation of the plan. Particular attention should be placed on the development of clear targets in phase 3 as an additional phase (5) Monitoring and review will measure the progress of objectives and actions.

There will also be a number of specific roles and responsibilities assigned to different groups during the formulation of the completed LECP:

  • The making of the overall plan as a reserved function of the elected council  of the local authority;
  • Preparation of the economic elements of the LECP by the SPC for Economic Development and Enterprise which is to perform this function on behalf of the local authority;
  • Preparation of the community elements of the LECP by the Local Community Development Committee (LCDC) (see guidance here);
  • Consultation with the Regional Assembly to ensure the consistency of the LECP with the RPG/RSES and adoption of a statement on the draft of both elements of the Plan by the assembly;
  • Consultation with the Municipal District members to ensure consistency between the economic and community elements and consistency with the core strategy and objectives of the statutory Development Plan, and adoption of a statement on the draft of both elements of the Plan by the Municipal District members as a reserved function.

 Key Datasets for Socio-Economic Baseline

The following sections will provide details on an inventory of datasets and sources that can be used in the development of a socio-economic baseline, a key part of the Preparation stage of the LECP process.

Prior to the establishment of a socio-economic baseline and beginning the data collection phase it is worth noting that LECPs should develop a baseline that will provide detail on a number of different spatial scales. This will enable analysis at the local level (either Small Area or Electoral Division), at the Municipal District level (for consultation with members) and at the local authority level and enable context with neighbouring counties, regions (either NUTS III, II or new Regional Assembly) and the State.

Table 1 below provides an overview of some of the main data themes within both the Community and Economic elements of the LECP. It is clear that there is also considerable overlap between some of the themes. For instance, Labour Market indicators such as Unemployment or Live Register are equally valid for both Community and Enterprises.

Table 1: Key Datasets for Socio-Economic Baseline

*Census Indicators

Data Sources for Socio-Economic Baseline

1. Census Data

The primary source for most datasets is the Central Statistics Office (CSO) and in particular the Census section. It is now possible to download the entire set of Small Area Population Statistics (SAPS) for analysis at both the Small Area (SA) and Electoral Division (ED) level via the CSO website.

Through the Census you will be able to develop a series of indicators for the themes listed in Table 1 above. In total there are 46 individual SAPS tables organised under 14 themes (Figure 1). Most, if not all, of these will contain useful indicators for both the community and economic element of the baseline. This excel file provides a breakdown of the individual indicators available within each theme.

Figure 1: CSO Census Themes

The following links will enable you to access all you need to get to grips with 2011 census variables:

Download full set of SAPS: link

Download accompanying GIS boundaries: link

Download County or Town Census profiles: link

Download Published Reports on Census Themes: link

2. Census Mapping sites

There are also a number of different mapping website that will provide you with access to all of the census variables in a pre-processed and easy to use format.

The CSO have developed SAPMAP and allows users to click on particular geographical boundaries (Towns, Garda Divisions, Gaeltacht Areas etc) and extract a complete census profile. This will be of particular use to planners and those working on local areas plans etc.

At AIRO we have developed a series of different mapping tools to provide access at the national, regional and local level. The following sites are available:

  1. National Census Mapping Viewer
  • hundreds of variables at the SA and ED level from Census 2011
  • All-Island Mapping Viewer
    • hundreds of All-Island variables at the SA level from Census 2011 in Ireland and Northern Ireland. This site will be of interest to those LAs in the cross-border region.
  • AIRO Regional Mapping Toolkits
    • individual mapping toolkits for all regions: new Regional Assemblies, NUTS II and NUTS III
  • Local Authority Mapping Toolkits
    • individual mapping toolkits for all local authorities in Ireland with hundreds of variables at the SA and ED level for 2006 and 2011. This will be a key resource for LECP monitoring.

    Figure 2: AIRO Local Authority Mapping Toolkits

    3. Crime Data

    Crime data is available through the CSO and each local authority will be able to develop statistics for Recorded Crime Offences at Garda Division, Region and Station level. Garda station data is the most useful for local authorities and provides statistics on 15 different crime types from 2003 to 2014.

    Data can be downloaded from the CSO website here: link

    AIRO have also developed a Crime Mapping Toolkit that displays all of the crime data for all Garda boundaries for the last number of years. Users can access the site here: link

    If local authority GIS officers require the GIS boundary for the Garda Station locations they can be downloaded from the AIRO Data Store here: link

    4. Affluence and Disadvantage

    The primary dataset for measuring Affluence and Disadvantage is the Pobal HP Deprivation Index. All of the data for this index is available via the authors website: link. Local authorities may be required sign a user licence to access the raw data at the SA level.

    There is also a series of really useful profile documents available here that details the Pobal HP Deprivation Index results for each local authority: link.

    All of the data relating to the Pobal HP Deprivation Index can also be viewed on the PobalMaps website: link

    5. Labour Market

    While the Census provides detailed information on economic status and labour market participation at the SA and ED level it is only available every 5 years and therefore not a useful means of monitoring change. The next best option for monitoring the labour market is via the Live Register.

    Although this is not designed as a proper measure of unemployment it does provide local authorities with a useful means of monitoring unemployment benefit claimants at Social Welfare Office (SWO) level. Data is not only available for total counts but also for gender, age groups (under 25 etc) and is available on a monthly basis.

    Data can be downloaded from the CSO website here: link See table LRM07

    6. Industry of Employment, Commuting and Jobs Profile

    Although Industry of Employment data is available through the Census there is an alternative means of calculating this and looking at the industry of employment in an actual area (based on jobs) rather than on the industry of residents. This can be developed by gaining access to the Place of Work Census of Anonymised Records (POWCAR) dataset from the CSO. POWCAR can also be used to develop visualisations of commuting flows in and out of local authorities as well and developing Jobs Profiles of towns (again, based on actual jobs in towns rather than industry of residents). Through POWCAR LA can develop detailed profile of the types of jobs undertaken in towns - Industry, Age profile, Education, Mode of transport and SEG.

    The following images are examples of POWCAR output from our work with both Meath and Wexford.

    Figure 3: Dublin Metropolitan Commuting from Meath

    Figure 4: Wexford Town Commuting Catchment

    POWCAR is a detailed file containing the demographic and socio-economic characteristics of these residents along with information on the origin and destination of their journeys has been made available for analysis. The POWSCAR is however only available under strict conditions to bone fide researchers who are approved by CSO. The application process is as follows:

    • Prospective users will have to apply in writing detailing their proposed research. The application form can be downloaded from the link below.
    • Once an application is approved by CSO, the Research Authority is provided with a contract covering the use of the data. The contract must be signed by the CEO of the Research Authority and Director General of CSO. A template for the contract can be viewed at Appendix 4 to the USER Guide.
    • All persons who are permitted to access the data must be signed up as Officers of Statistics for the duration of the research.
    • CSO will provide the Research Authority with POWSCAR data for the duration of the research.
    • If the duration of a proposed research project is for longer than one year, a contract may be signed for a maximum of one year after which it will be necessary for the Research Authority to re-apply.

    The team at AIRO, in collaboration with the CSO, have developed a POWCAR mapping toolkit that provides an illustration of employment catchments for all Gateways and Hubs in Ireland. You can access the mapping tool here: link

    7. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI):

    IDA Ireland provides a useful listing of all FDI companies located in Ireland. Information is available on sector, country of origin and location in Ireland (broken down by county). Local authorities can therefore develop a profile of all FDI companies by accessing this database.

    To download this information visit the IDA Ireland site: link

    8. Business Demography

    The CSO provide an excellent resource on business demography in Ireland and enable the development of a very detailed profile of business (Large and SME) within local authorities.

    Business Demography data is made available annually by the CSO and is based on enterprises with employees that are registered with the Revenue Commissioners and that have filed a corporate tax return during the reference year.  Business Demography presents data on active business enterprises, the number employed in active enterprise and then the number of persons engaged in active enterprise.  Full detail is also available on the NACE sector of the business.

    Download the latest Business Demography data from the CSO here: link. The main tables at local authority level are BRA08 and BRA18

    To view an excellent example of what can be achieved by analysing the Business Demography data from the CSO see a recent Western Development Commission report: link  

    9. Housing

    Whilst there is a lot of information available in the Census on housing (housing type, tenure, age of housing, housing vacancy rates etc) there are also some additional resources that can complement census housing data. The main two sources are the Department of Social Protection (DSP) and the Housing Agency.

    DSP provide detail on rent supplement data at a local authority level and is a key dataset in understanding the dependency of the private rented sector in a local authority on central supplementary payments. The Annual SWS Statistical Information Report is the key source for this information and provides details on a variety of supports and supplementary payments.

    In relation to Housing the key report is Section G Supplementary Payments: Link. This report will provide details on both long-term and short-term rent supplement recipients per local authority from 2005 to 2013. Combining this information with the total number of rented properties per local authority will provide useful rent supplement dependency rates.

    The Housing Agency have also recently published a report on a Summary of Social Housing Assessments, 2013. This report provides a very detailed profile of social housing conditions across local authorities in Ireland: age profile; nationality; employment status; household income; household composition; specific accommodation requirements; current tenure of waiting list; length of time on record; main need for social housing.

    To access this report see the Housing Agency: link

    10. Education

    There is a lot of Education data available through the Census (high level achieved, age of completion etc) at the SA and ED level. Another source is via the Department of Education and the Higher Education Authority. Some of the following are useful datasets at the local authority level:

    Data on individual schools (primary and secondary) at local authority level: link

    National schools and programmes (2005-2014): link

    Second level schools and programmes (2005-2014): link

    Third Level students by destination: link

    11. Tourism

    Failte Ireland provide a very detailed set of Tourism data on the following indicators: Accommodation and Hotel Bed Capacity; Visitors to main tourist attractions; Overseas visitors to counties; Overseas revenue generated by county: link