Dozens of complaints were lodged about Northumberland County Council were lodged with a local government watchdog last year, figures show.

The coronavirus pandemic has intensified existing problems, and contributed to the most difficult time in several years for local authorities nationally, according to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman.

The body looks at complaints about councils and some other authorities, such as adult social care providers and education appeal panels.

Figures from the LGSCO show 70 complaints or enquiries about Northumberland County Council were lodged in the year to March, though the ombudsman was closed to new complaints between March and June 2020.

That was down from 88 the year before.

The highest number of concerns (21) involved planning and development. There were 13 cases related to adult social care.

The reasons for the complaints were not provided.

A spokesperson from Northumberland County Council said: "We always endeavour to resolve any complaints or enquiries as quickly as possible in-house but the Ombudsman is always an option for those who wish to take their issue further.

"While the number of complaints which end up with the Ombudsman has gone down and represent a small minority of the population, we do take on board its recommendations and where necessary put in place changes that will benefit other residents."

At the height of the first lockdown, the ombudsman was closed to new cases and halted ongoing investigations.

Pandemic-related disruption contributed to a significant drop in complaints and enquiries across England, with 11,800 received – down from 17,000 the year before.

But the proportion of all cases upheld nationally has grown and was 67% in 2020-21, compared to 61% in 2019-20.

Michael King, local government and social care ombudsman, said the figures showed investigators were finding fault more often.

He added: “While the way local authorities dealt with the pressures of Covid-19 is still being played out in our casework, early indications suggest it is only widening the cracks that were already there."

He said the concerns "cannot be wholly attributed to the trials of the pandemic."