Q4 2021 INDEX – UK Local Government INDEX Published

20 Dec 2021 | Index | Accessibility | Public sector

Adam Turner
  • Tweet this item
  • share this item on Linkedin

We published the original INDEX of UK Local Government websites in January 2006, over 15 years ago. The INDEX is now published quarterly and ranks UK & IE Universities’ websites for digital compliance, based on User Experience, Search Engine Optimisation and Governance, Risk and Compliance.

This week we have published the results from our 2021 Q4 UK Local Government INDEX to see progress being made and which organisations are complying with the law.

The accessibility regulations came into force for public sector bodies on 23 September 2018 and state that public sector websites must be more accessible by making them ‘perceivable, operable, understandable and robust’. Websites also need to include an accessibility statement, which should be kept up to date.

The full name of the accessibility regulations is the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations 2018.

The accessibility regulations build on existing obligations to people who have a disability under the Equality Act 2010 (or the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 in Northern Ireland). These say that all UK service providers must consider ‘reasonable adjustments’ for disabled people.

The Q4 2021 INDEX ranks the websites of over 400 UK Local Government organisations following over 275 million tests, checks and measures across over 859,000 URLs.

Congratulations to North Devon Council for retaining first place and to Tewkesbury Borough Council for being the most improved, rising a very impressive 225 places up the table.

Since Q3 2021, 57 organisations have improved the accessibility of their website, whilst 51 have seen it decline.

Two organisations passed the WCAG 2.1 Level A and AA tests on 100% of their web pages and three organisation actually failed the level A and AA tests on every page.

Indeed 75% of web pages failed the level A tests and 21% failed the level AA tests. More than 3,500 PDFs were accessed with only 29% passing all of our 28 WCAG accessibility tests.

European Union Directive 2016/2102/EU, creating a set of standards for EU public sector bodies, using European standard EN 301 549 V1.1.2 (2015-04), was approved on October 26, 2016 and came into force for in the UK on 23 September 2018. The aim of the regulations is to ensure public sector websites and mobile apps can be used by as many people as possible.

This includes those with:

  • impaired vision
  • motor difficulties
  • cognitive impairments or learning disabilities
  • deafness or impaired hearing

New public sector websites have needed to be compliant since 22 September 2019, all other public sector websites needed to be compliant by 22 September 2020.

If we focus on accessibility Harrogate Borough Council and North Devon Council should both be congratulated for leading this sector on accessibility, top scoring with a perfect score of 10 (out of 10).

As for the rest of the organisations in the INDEX:

  • 33% of organisations achieved a score of 7 or more (out of 10) for accessibility
  • 38% of organisations scored 5 or 6 (out of 10) for accessibility
  • 15% of organisations actually scored zero for accessibility

In the event of 2 organisations being tied then the organisation who scored higher in the previous quarter’s INDEX is ranked higher.

Top ten websites

  1. North Devon Council
  2. Harrogate Borough Council
  3. Somerset West and Taunton Council
  4. Richmondshire District Council
  5. Wigan Council
  6. Blaby District Council
  7. Mansfield District Council
  8. Eden District Council
  9. West Northamptonshire Council
  10. Comhairle nan Eilean Siar

Five Most improved websites

  • Tewkesbury Borough Council
  • Swansea Council
  • Belfast City Council
  • Maidstone Borough Council
  • North Lanarkshire Council

The full 2021 Q4 UK Local Government INDEX results can be found here: Sitemorse UK Local Government INDEX