Impact assessment is about assessing the way we work including our policies, strategies and procedures, so that we know in advance what the impact is likely to be, and can take steps to minimise disadvantages and increase the likelihood of achieving the outcomes we want. It is evidence based. Some types of impact assessment are required by law, for example, environmental impact and equality impact. Assessing impact is about building in good practice and utilising resources effectively.
Equality impact assessment
Equality Impact Assessment (EQIA) is an approach which can be utilised to assess the possible equality impacts of existing or new initiatives such as policies, strategies, functions, plans and projects. The aim is to highlight and enhance both the intended and unintended positive effects, to eliminate any discriminatory effects and to remove or minimise any negative impacts. The process is intended to ensure thorough and systematic assessment which builds on what is currently being done in relation to equality. This will help mainstreaming of equality into policy development and implementation, and into day to day thinking and practice.
Benefits of equality impact assessment
Equality Impact Assessment will help us to:
- take into account the needs, experiences, circumstances and barriers that different people in our communities may face
- identify the real and possible inequalities people will experience and deliver appropriate and professional services
- find ways to achieve the aims of our policies which reduce disadvantage for particular groups of people
- find ways to increase equality and quality for our employees and service users
- develop better policy-making procedures and better services
- increase transparency and accountability in the way we do things
Why we need to assess
The legislation requires us to assess 'functions' and 'policies'. This means we have to consider the range of duties and powers exercised by the Council, and the ways in which these are implemented. Hence, we may be considering, for example, policies, action plans, strategies, guidance, practices, processes, procedures and service redesign. For shorthand purposes, we are using the term "policies" to mean all of these.
As it is important to build equality into our policy development and practice, we must conduct an impact assessment of new policies and any changes to policies. However, we must also pay attention to the 'back catalogue' of existing policies which are likely to have a significant impact on our workforce and on the general public as clients and service-users.
As there could be a large number of policies which affect people in relation to equality, we have to prioritise the policies by considering their relevance to equality and other appropriate criteria, and by making an initial assessment of the level of impact through a screening process.