Equality analysis and equality impact assessments

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22 / 1 / 2009 1.56pm

Under the general equality duty, trusts are required to analyse the effect of exiting and new policies and practices in relation to equality. This can include the use of equality impact assessments.

What is equality analysis?

Public authorities are responsible for making a wide range of decisions, from the contents of overarching policies and  budget setting to day-to-day decisions which affect specific individuals.

Equality analysis is a way of considering the effect on different groups protected from discrimination by the Equality Act, such as people of different ages. There are two reasons for this:

  • to consider if there are any unintended consequences for some groups
  • to consider if the policy will be fully effective for all target groups.

It involves using equality information, and the results of engagement with protected groups and others, to understand the actual effect or the potential effect of your functions, policies or decisions. It can help you to identify practical steps to tackle any negative effects or discrimination, to advance equality and to foster good relations.

Full and comprehensive guidance on equality analysis can be found on the Equality and Human Rights Commission website

What is an equality impact assessment?

Equality Impact assessments (EqIA) are one tool for examining the main functions and policies of an organisation to see whether they have the potential to affect people differently. Their purpose is to identify and address existing or potential inequalities, resulting from policy and practice development. Ideally, EqIAs should cover all the strands of diversity and will help trusts get a better understanding of its functions and the way decisions are made, by:

  • considering the current situation
  • deciding the aims and intended outcomes of a function or policy 
  • considering what evidence there is to support the decision and identifying any gaps
  • ensuring it is an informed decision

Should I continue using EqIAs?

In response to the previous equality duties, many trusts introduced EqIAs and have now established them as a standard part of the policy and decision making processes within their organisations. NHS trusts can chose to continue using EqIAs as part of their equality analysis, however, it may be worthwhile reviewing your EqIA processes to ensure that they meet the requirements of the new equality duty. Under this duty, trusts must publish evidence of the analysis that they undertook to establish whether their policies or practices would further or would have furthered the aims of the duty, details of the information that they considered and details of engagement undertaken when doing the analysis.

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