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:
- Read the guidance before starting!!
- Identify what information you need to gather and analyse. Equality information is available here.
- 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.
- 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 stakeholder 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 www.devon.gov.uk/equalitylegislation.
- 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 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
Before you get started:
- Check out our Introduction to Equality Impact Assessment and the Public Sector Equality Duty (video 4.18 minutes).
Check out the following guides and sources of information:
- Impact Assessment Form with Guidance Notes
- 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.
- Seeing RED – understanding the customer/community perspective.
- Engaging Devon – approaches to consultation and participation.
- Sources of information about communities, staff and service users.
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:
|Heading||What to cover here||For example (NB a very simple illustration!)|
|Description||What you are planning to do and where||We plan to close the Exe Centre in Devland and relocate services to Onland.|
|Reasons for change and options appraisal||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.|
|Profile (Service users)||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.|
|Social/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.|
|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.|
Writing up the assessment
Please use plain English. Guidance on plain English is available on the staff website.
- Impact Assessment Form A – download Word version with tables
- Impact Assessment Form B – download Word version without tables
- Equality Impact Assessment ‘Lite’ – you can use this table for building equality considerations into reviews and assessments (for example, a scrutiny review or monitoring report for managers). Do not use for Cabinet/decisions.
Please email your completed assessment to the ‘impact assessment’ mailbox in PDF format, dated and ‘signed off’ by the Head of Service or Service Manager. Please also ensure your document name reflects the title (subject). 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.
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.
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.