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What is an Impact Assessment?

Impact Assessment helps us consider the actual or potential effects of our activities and decisions on people, the economy and the environment.

It’s what used to be called an “EINA” (Equality Impact and Needs Assessment). We revised the “EINA” paperwork to include economic and environmental impacts so we can make better, more joined-up decisions about delivering services or making changes.

The assessment gives us the opportunity to do things better by:

  • Taking an evidenced based approach – using facts, data, information and feedback to inform our thinking.
  • Exploring ways to improve the services we provide (positive impacts).
  • Removing or reducing negative impacts by flagging up issues that would be expensive or inconvenient to fix later.
  • Considering options, outcomes and risks alongside costs and value for money.
  • Increasing public trust by showing how we make decisions.

There are also a number of statutory duties for local authorities that need to be met:

  • We have a legal duty to publish information about the way people are or will be affected by our policies and practices. We must bring this to the attention of decision makers. If we fail to do this, and operate policies and practices that adversely affect a section of the community disproportionately, we could be subject to legal challenges and financial penalties [Equality Act 2010].
  • Environmental duties include a requirement to consider the conservation of biodiversity whilst performing our duties [Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006], have regard to the most recent energy measures report published by government [Climate Change and Sustainable Energy Act 2006] and take into account the desirability of conserving water [Water Act 2003].
  • Public authorities must consider economic, social and environmental well-being in connection with public services contracts. This must be done before the procurement process begins. The authority must consider how it might improve the economic, social and environmental well-being of the relevant area and how, in conducting the process of procurement, it might secure that improvement. [Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012].

An Impact Assessment is not ‘a form’; it’s a process to make sure we have considered the most effective way to use our resources to advance equality and reduce inequalities between groups, to reduce environmental harm and support the economy. The form is just a way to record what we have considered and what evidence we used to come to a recommendation or decision. Sometimes a statement is sufficient rather than a separate form. For further guidance, please see the Toolkit.

Easy read guide to Impact Assessment