When and what to assess
The HIIA should be conducted when the policy or plan is in draft. It should be well enough developed that you can understand the potential impacts, but not so far developed that you can’t make changes to it as a result of the assessment.
Assessing impact does not end with the introduction of the new or revised policy. It is important to monitor the actual impact of the policy as it is implemented, and revisit the assessment as part of any review.
All new and substantial revisions to existing public sector policies, plans and publications require an impact assessment where they have the potential to impact on people. A public authority must review and, if necessary, revise any policy or practice to ensure that it complies with the Equality Act 2010 public sector equality duty.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission provides guidance on impact assessment and the equality duty (external website).
Follow the HIIA process
There are six steps in the process.
- identify scope and stakeholders
- establish steering groups or use existing structure
- develop introductory briefing for scoping workshop.
- identify affected populations and potential impacts
- produce draft scoping report
- workshop participants review the report.
- narrow the focus of impacts and research questions based on relevance to equality, scope and resources.
- gather evidence for prioritised impacts/research questions
- consult with wider stakeholders to contribute evidence.
- make recommendations to mitigate against negative impacts/enhance positive impacts
- report on the process, key findings and recommendations.
6. Reporting, taking action and monitoring
- take action as a result of the assessment
- establish monitoring arrangements and review of practice.
You can either work your way through the full process or you can pick and choose elements to complement your existing approach to impact assessment. For instance, by incorporating the human rights considerations, adopting the workshop model and ensuring that impact assessment is evidence-informed, you may be able to enhance your understanding of the potential impact of your planned activity on people or on the social determinants of health.
Three types of evidence can be gathered to inform a robust impact assessment.
- Population data and statistics, such as demographic profiles or service uptake data, to understand the profile of your communities. You can access this data from our Public Health Data page.
- Consultation findings, such as reports on engagement activity with local communities or expert opinion, to gather perspectives and experiences of people affected by the plans.
- Research, such as service evaluations, Social Care Institute for Excellence guides, or literature reviews about the causes of health inequalities. This will help you learn how effective, accessible and acceptable the service, policy or plan is to people.
Invite participants to the workshop
Our experience of using HIIA suggests that the most successful workshops have 8–12 stakeholders who have
- been involved in the development of the plans
- some insight into the needs and experiences of the potentially affected individuals or communities.
Advice from stakeholders should be considered as evidence and should be taken full account of when reporting potential impacts and making recommendations.
Write your report
Public sector bodies are required by law to make the results of equality impact assessments available to the public.
There is no prescribed format or channel for making the results available.
The final HIIA report can include
- mitigating actions
- key impacts, recommendations
- how the impact assessment was conducted
- arrangements for monitoring (a template for the report is available).
The more detailed scoping workshop report can be made available upon request to show how the recommendations were reached.
You can use our guides and resources to help you carry out an HIIA.