What Are Equality Impact Assessments?
An Equality Impact Assessment - also known as an Impact, Needs and Requirement Assessment (INRA) - is a way to make sure individuals and teams think carefully about the likely impact of policies or procedures, strategies, functions and services, to identify any unmet needs, and to provide a basis for action to improve services where appropriate.
It systematically assesses and records the actual, potential or likely impact of a service, policy or project – or a significant change in a service, policy or project - on different groups of people. The consequences of policies and projects on particular groups are analysed and anticipated so that, as far as possible, any negative consequences can be eliminated or minimised and opportunities for ensuring equality can be maximised.
Why do EIA's?
The purpose of an Equality Impact Assessment is to improve the work of the Authority by making sure it does not discriminate in the way that it provides services and employment and that, where possible, it does all it can to promote equality and good relations between different groups.
To understand why EIAs are necessary requires an understanding that ‘equality’ is not about treating everybody the same. For example, providing a service for everybody only on a Friday will adversely affect certain religious groups, and altering funding arrangements for community and voluntary sector groups would disproportionately impact on particular communities. Equality means making sure that the individual requirements of different people and different communities are taken into account.
The EIA is carried out by commissioning or drawing on existing research and/or monitoring information, and community consultation. The first part of the assessment, pre-screening, is used for a preliminary screening of the policy, service or project. If a potential impact on a particular group is identified in pre-screening, the service, policy, or project in question will undergo a more wide-ranging assessment.
Local Authorities have a legal responsibility under the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000 to assess their policies and functions, and to set out how they will monitor any possible negative impact on race equality. They also have to consult on proposed policies and train their staff about this law, and have a positive duty to promote good relations between communities.
In addition, Bassetlaw District Council has taken on the Equality Standard for Local Government which requires the Authority to impact assess for gender and disability, and has also committed to addressing the needs of and impact assessing around sexual orientation, age, and religion and belief.