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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. It can also be used to inform reviews, such as a scrutiny review or service/policy audit. If you are unsure, check with the Corporate Equality Officer.

Once you have established the need to carry out an Impact Assessment:

  1. Read the guidance before starting!!
  2. Identify what information you need to gather and analyse. Equality information is available here.
  3. Identify colleagues who can help with information or expertise.

Key points to note

  • Always begin the Impact Assessment at the start of your project/planning process so that it has influence and is integrated all the way through. Your draft may inform who you need to consult and the kind of questions you need to ask.
  • The Impact Assessment must be a well informed process. Take an evidence based approach (use diversity information/data and consult others). You may want to publish a draft as part of consultation and invite people to comment on it.
  • Consider the relevance of all nine protected characteristics (‘diversity groups’) and the Public Sector Equality Duty of the Equality Act 2010 and how they may be impacted by the plan/policy. For more information about the Act visit
  • Consider how to enhance positive impacts for diversity groups. 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).
  • Consider how to reduce, remove or mitigate negative impacts for diversity groups.
  • Consider whether the plan/policy 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 will result in unlawful direct or indirect discrimination, or a breach of human rights, 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.
  • Involve other stakeholders – they may have some creative solutions for enhancing positive and reducing negative impacts!
  • Publish your assessment in PDF/A format (see instructions below).
  • Ensure decision makers are informed of the impacts.
  • Get help early on if you need it.

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).

Carrying out the assessment

Scroll down for the form.

Before you get started:

Check out the following guides and sources of information:


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.

What each section covers:


HeadingWhat to cover hereFor example (NB a very simple illustration!)
DescriptionWhat your service/policy does/plans to do and whereWe plan to close the Exe Centre in Devland and relocate services to Onland.
Reasons for change / review, aims, limitations and optionsWhy you are doing itThe 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 affectedWho will be affected by itThere are 120 service users.  60% are women, 0.5% are disabled, 0.5% are an ethnic minority, 70% are aged over 60.
Equality analysisHow it will affect peopleRelocating 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.
ActionsWhat you will do as a result of this assessment to reduce negative impacts/enhance positive impactsSend leaflets to all users about the change, making sure that alternative formats are clear and made available for people with different communication needs.

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 policies or strategies, or those where reducing inequality is a key part, an equality impact statement within the policy or strategy may be sufficient, provided consideration of diversity (protected characteristics) and the Public Sector Equality Duty are visible.

Standard DCC Impact Assessment Form:

You can adapt this form if necessary.

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. You can publish a draft for consultation via this route and send the final version later. Officers may also ask for support via this route.

If your impact assessment is in another published report, 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.

Training and support

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.

Equality webpages