The Duty to assess and review policies and practices

A listed authority is required to assess the impact of applying a proposed new or revised policy or practice, against the needs of the general equality duty, in so far as is needed to meet the general equality duty.

This duty requires listed authorities to undertake an equality impact assessment in respect of each protected characteristic and in respect of each of the three parts of the general duty and requires that a listed authority must:

  • To the extent necessary to fulfil the general equality duty, assess the impact of its proposed policies and practices, as well as changes or revisions to existing policies or practices.

  • Consider relevant evidence relating to people with protected characteristics, including any evidence received from those people.

  • Take account of the results of any assessment.

  • Publish, within a reasonable period, the results of any policy which it adopts.        

  • Make appropriate arrangements to review and if necessary, revise any policy or practice to ensure it complies with the general duty.

Note that the regulations specifically state that consideration of whether or not an assessment of impact is needed is not to be treated as the assessment itself.

The guidance Assessing impact and the public sector equality duty provides practical advice for every stage of the process. It highlights the key points to remember:

  • In assessing impact, authorities should start by asking what impact the policy will have on their ability to meet each of the needs of the general equality duty for each equality group.

  • Assessing impact involves identifying what steps could be taken to advance equality and foster good relations, not only to eliminate discrimination.

  • Assessing impact is an integral part of policy development and review, informing policy as it develops. If integrated well, impact assessment is a tool for improved policy-making and should not result in unnecessary additional activity.

  • The purpose is not to complete a specific form or template, but to understand the effects of a policy or practice on equality, and take necessary action as a result.

  • The time and effort involved should be in proportion to the relevance of the policy to equality.

  • Without good evidence, a proper assessment of impact will be difficult to achieve. A lack of information is not an excuse for inactivity.

  • The insights from involving employees, service users, trade unions and others affected are useful evidence for your assessment.

  • Publishing assessments will increase accountability and transparency.