Building block 6: Evidence to Support Assessment

EQHRIAs should be supported by robust and reliable evidence which is sufficient to support any conclusions and recommendations that are reached. Where insufficient evidence exists, assessors should identify processes for collecting evidence that fills the gaps.

  • Why is evidence to support assessment important?

The business case

Use of appropriate supporting evidence is central to any EQHRIA methodology. Without evidence any conclusions drawn are likely to reflect only the assessor’s own knowledge, experience and/or prejudices. Assessments that are not based on sound evidence will not lead to better policy outcomes.

Reflections on evidence gathering from pilot:

“The evidence is crucial to the methodology for impact assessment. Without the evidence those conducting the assessment will use their own experience and their own knowledge rather than the facts.”

“There is a wide range of demographic data available from the Scottish Government at the census website. There is also internal monitoring data that we have within our organisation. There is research and data sets available from other government agencies; things like Scottish Household Survey, Criminal Justice Survey. There are also other public organisations like End Child Poverty. There is also published and unpublished research reports, and there is also recommendations from Inspection and Audit Reports…….We can also contact partner organisations and maybe tap into their data that they would normally publicise or put out into the general public.”

“What we are going to be doing is consulting the different service departments. We are asking them what information they would like to see within the knowledge bank and asking them what information they can provide for the knowledge bank.”

“Because it was expanded to include human rights, we didn’t just concentrate on the nine protected characteristics dealing with equalities. The human rights agenda basically covers everybody.”

Peter Rub, Policy and Research Analyst Officer, Renfrewshire Council


The legal case

The Equality Act 2010 (Specific Duties) (Scotland) Regulations 2012 requires listed authorities, where and to the extent necessary to fulfil the equality duty, to assess the impact of applying a proposed new or revised policy or practice against the need to eliminate discrimination, advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations. 

In making the assessment, a listed authority must consider relevant evidence relating to people who share a relevant protected characteristic (including any received from such persons).


  • What are the practical considerations?

There are likely to be many sources of evidence that are already available to inform the assessment, such as:

  • demographic information

  • service-level monitoring data

  • external research and statistics

  • recommendations from audit and inspection reports

  • internal monitoring data

  • local, national and international data sets,

  • published and unpublished research reports

  • and evidence from consultation with users.

It is inefficient and unfeasible to expect each EQHRIA process to gather together this evidence independently from original sources. Evidence needs to be made available to assessors in such a way that it can be easily used in the assessment process (Building block 5).

However, existing evidence may need to be supplemented for the specific policy under consideration. It is important to have as much up-to-date and reliable evidence as possible about the needs and experiences of the different groups the policy is likely to affect.

Where insufficient evidence exists to support conclusions about what the likely impact will be, then assessors should work out what evidence is necessary that would allow them to draw conclusions and make recommendations. As a result, they  may need to commission further research, or involve relevant groups to gather evidence from them (Building block 7 on involvement of communities). Decisions about how much evidence to gather should take into account the severity of the human rights/equality issue faced.

You may find it useful to work with partners to fill these gaps or you may find that partners have information that you could use. Where it is not possible to gather new information in time to inform the assessment, you should include plans for gathering evidence and a timescale within which it will be done in your plans to monitor and review the policy (Building block 10 on transparency and review). A lack of evidence should never be used as a reason for inaction.

Read the  Scottish Government's Equality Evidence Finder here.

Pilot practice example:

In Renfrewshire an extensive data gathering and compilation exercise was undertaken gathering together a wide range of evidence on the overall population of Renfrewshire, disaggregated by equality groups and various other groups providing a better understanding of the equality and human rights potential impacts of changes to advice services. This evidence database is being centralised on the intranet and internet of the Council.