When do I need to do an Impact Assessment?
Typically, new or changing services, policies and strategies (including commissioned services and changes to funding) require some kind of assessment if they will have an impact on people or the environment. Impact Assessment can also be used to inform reviews, such as a scrutiny review or service/policy audit. If you are unsure, check with the Lead Officer for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion.
Hear the Chief Executive, Phil Norrey talk about the importance of understanding what matters to people, including marginalised groups, and how our work impacts them (video 1.50 minutes).
Check out our Introduction to Equality Impact Assessment and the Public Sector Equality Duty (video 4.18 minutes).
Key points to note
- Read the guidance before starting!
- The Impact Assessment must be a well informed process: identify what information you need to gather and analyse to take an evidence based approach. This means using diversity information/data and consulting others.
- Always begin the Impact Assessment at the start of your project/planning process so that it has influence. Your draft assessment may inform who you need to consult and the kind of questions you need to ask and can be published as part of a consultation process.
- Get help early on if you need it and involve other people – they may have some creative solutions for enhancing positive and reducing negative impacts!
Things to consider when carrying out the assessment:
- How to enhance positive impacts. For example, don’t just think about equality of access/opportunity, but also equality of outcomes (for example, customer satisfaction, health/wellbeing and ability to reach own potential).
- How to reduce, remove or mitigate negative impacts. This includes ‘debiasing’ any processes and systems (explained later).
- Whether the plan, policy or practice is necessary and reasonable, and any negative impacts are proportionate. If there are negative impacts, is there an alternative, less disadvantageous option?
If the plan, policy or practice will result in unlawful direct or indirect discrimination, a breach of human rights or environmental laws, it must be stopped/changed. An Impact Assessment doesn’t necessarily stop a local authority from making difficult decisions such as closing a service, but ensures that it has considered all the facts and impacts fully before making a decision.
Finishing the assessment:
- Publish your assessment in PDF/A format (see instructions below).
- Ensure decision makers are informed of the impacts.
Checklists and guides
- NEW Debiasing the system
- Seeing RED – understanding the customer/community perspective.
- Diversity Guide – for Equality Analysis
- Environmental Analysis
- Economic Analysis
- If you are running an event and you want to make sure it’s as accessible as possible, use the Equality checklist for events.
- If you’re creating reports, web pages, newsletters or any other written communication and you want to make it accessible, check our Accessible Communications Guidelines.
Assessment and consultation tools:
- Impact Assessment – TGROW approach – this uses the TGROW coaching method. It is a series of questions which will help you carry out the equality analysis.
- Action Learning approach – facilitating a group of people to help identify needs and impacts.
Writing up the assessment
Please use plain English. Guidance on plain English is available on the staff website.
If you wish to modify the structure/format, please ensure it remains accessible: use the accessibility checker in Word before creating your PDF/A format. For some things (such as purchasing an ICT system), the standard forms below may not be the best route for checking accessibility / inclusion, and you may find a bespoke checklist more useful. You can summarise your results in any reports to decision makers.
For more minor changes, an equality impact statement in the Cabinet report may be sufficient.
It is also beneficial to include an equality impact statement within the policy or strategy itself.
Standard DCC Impact Assessment Form:
What each section covers:
|Heading||What to cover here||For example (NB a very simple illustration!)|
|Description||What your service/policy does/plans to do and where||We plan to close the Exe Centre in Devland and relocate services to Onland.|
|Reasons for change / review, aims, limitations and options||Why you are doing it||The Centre is in an old Victorian building that is not accessible to disabled people. Adjustments have been explored but they are not practical or cost effective. Relocation is the most cost-effective option.|
|People affected||Who will be affected by it||There are 120 service users. 60% are women, 0.5% are disabled, 0.5% are an ethnic minority, 70% are aged over 60.|
|Equality analysis||How it will affect people||Relocating to Onland will mean that disabled people can access the service. The new venue is also on a main bus route and will be easier to reach by other users. Some irregular users may not be aware of the change and need information in accessible formats.|
|Environmental analysis||How it will affect the environment||Better access via public transport will reduce congestion and pollution.|
|Economic analysis||How it will affect the economy||Existing jobs will be retained as part of this relocation.|
|Actions||What you will do as a result of this assessment to reduce negative impacts/enhance positive impacts||Send leaflets to all users about the change, making sure that alternative formats are clear and made available for people with different communication needs.|
Publishing – IMPORTANT – please read
- Please proof-read your document and ensure it is presentable.
- Email your completed assessment to the ‘impact assessment’ mailbox in PDF/A format, signed off by the Head of Service or Service Manager (by inserting the date the HOS approved).
To create PDF/A format: In Word, go ‘File’, ‘Export’, ‘Create a PDF’. Choose file name and location, but before hitting ‘Save’, click on ‘Options’ and tick the box against ‘Create PDF/A-1a:2005 compliant, before then saving.
- Please also ensure your document name reflects the title (subject) and date in YYYYMM format. For example, devonchange201910.
- If your impact assessment is in another published report or webpage, please forward the link.
My service has ten policies to be reviewed – do I have to do an Impact Assessment for each one?
Not necessarily. It might make more sense to review all the policies together to judge their cumulative impact, or it might be more manageable to review a large policy its own. Do whatever makes the process manageable and meaningful.
What training and support is available?
If the guidance above seems daunting, one to one coaching/mentoring or advice is also available from the Corporate Equality Officer. Please make contact at the earliest opportunity (before you begin your assessment). Half day workshops can also be arranged for teams of eight or more.
Also contact the Corporate Equality Officer to book some time at an Equality Reference Group ‘Surgery’ (a group of external stakeholders from the Voluntary/Community Sector) – please do this early on in your process. Meetings are held six times a year.