UK Policy Briefings
Equality impact assessments and equality-responsiveness of budgets in English local authorities
Date Posted: Thursday 29th April 2021
Under the Public Sector Equality Duty, contained in the 2010 Equality Act, all public bodies in England, Scotland and Wales have to have ‘due regard’ to the impact of their policies on eliminating discrimination and harassment, promoting equality and fostering good relations through the lens of the nine protected characteristics of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation.
Equality Impact Assessments (EIAs) are a tool by which public bodies can do this by providing a means of systematically gathering and analysing evidence on the equalities impact of a decision.
This briefing by Dr Olumide Adisa and Fiona Costello analyses the use of EIAs within local government budget processes.
- The majority of local authorities are not routinely undertaking equality impact assessment in assessing the policy impacts of budgeting processes.
- There is a lack of conformity across England in terms of how equality impact assessments of budgetary decisions are made, which has implications for achieving equality objectives.
- EIAs can be a useful measure of how public bodies, including local authorities are meeting their obligations under the Public Sector Equality Duty contained in the 2010 Equality Act.
- The tendency to approach equality impact assessments as ‘tick-box’ exercises means that opportunities for promoting equality are missed.
- When done well, equality impact assessments have the potential to bring equality to the forefront of the debate and can enable action approaches for identifying and tackling multiple sources of inequalities.
- Cultural change is required to ensure that local authorities understand the value of equality impact assessments and implement these in a meaningful and robust way.