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 and equality analysis if they will have an impact on people or the environment. An impact assessment should be a core part of any review process.

Equality analysis should also be included in reviews such as an annual report or scrutiny review or audit, where relevant. This can be embedded in the body of the report.

If you are unsure about whether you need to include an equality analysis or impact assessment, check with the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Team.

Check out our Introduction to Equality Impact Assessment and the Public Sector Equality Duty (video 4.18 minutes).

Key points to note

Getting started:

  • Read the guidance before starting!
  • The Impact Assessment must be a well informed process: identify who you need to involve and what information you need to gather and analyse to take an evidence based approach. 
  • Always begin the Impact Assessment at the start of your project/planning process so that it has influence. This will also help you identify who you need to consult and the kind of questions you need to ask.
  • Get help early on if you need it and involve people who will be affected – they may have some creative solutions for enhancing positive and reducing negative impacts!
  • Impact Assessment is a process, not a form. The form merely captures your findings at the end of the process.

Things to consider when carrying out the assessment:

  • How to enhance positive impacts. This includes equality of access or opportunity and equality of outcomes (or ‘equity’ for example, customer satisfaction, health/wellbeing and ability to reach own potential).
  • How to reduce, remove or mitigate negative impacts and bias. 
  • 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.

Supporting guidance and information

DCC Impact Assessment Form (updated March 2024)

For minor changes, an equality impact statement in the Cabinet report may be sufficient. It is also beneficial to include an equality impact statement and equality analysis within the policy or strategy itself.

For some things (such as purchasing an ICT system), the standard form may not be the best route for checking accessibility / inclusion, and you may find a bespoke checklist more useful.

Where a Needs Assessment or similar approach informs a strategy or annual report, equality analysis of needs and impacts can be embedded in that document and there is no need to publish a separate impact assessment.

Writing up the assessment

Please use plain English. Guidance on plain English is available on the staff website.

Keep your assessment concise but meaningful so that a member of the public or staff can understand what is happening and how it might affect them.

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. Follow DCC Accessibility Guidelines.

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 and accessible.
  • To publish the final version (usually for Cabinet), 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 publish a consultation draft, please publish this directly to the Have Your Say website.

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.


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 for equality impact assessment?

If the guidance above seems daunting, one to one or team coaching/mentoring or advice may be available (subject to capacity) from the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Team. Please make contact at the earliest opportunity (before you begin your assessment). Contact members of the Environment or Economy teams if you have questions about environmental or economic analysis.

Also contact the EDI Team if you would like to consult the Equality Reference Group ‘Surgery’ (a group of external stakeholders from the Voluntary/Community Sector) – please do this early on in your process. Meetings are usually held six times a year.

Equality webpages