Shropshire Council

Equality and social inclusion impact assessments (ESIIA)

The context

Our equality and social inclusion impact assessment (ESIIA) approach helps us to identify whether or not any new or significant planned or anticipated changes to services, including policies, procedures, functions or projects, may have an adverse impact on a particular group of people, and whether the human rights of individuals may be affected.

This assessment encompasses consideration of social inclusion. This is so that we're thinking as carefully and completely as possible about all Shropshire groups and communities, including people in rural areas and people we may describe as vulnerable, as well as people in what are described as the nine 'protected characteristics' of groups of people in our population. We demonstrate equal treatment to people in these groups, and to people who aren't, through having what is termed 'due regard' to their needs and views when developing and implementing policy and strategy, and when commissioning, procuring, arranging or delivering services. These groupings are listed in our introductory page about equality, diversity and social inclusion.

It’s a legal requirement for local authorities to assess the equality and human rights impact of changes proposed or made to services. It's up to the individual local authority to decide what exact form an equality impact assessment may take. The approach we use in Shropshire is to combine a guidance and evidence template into one document for ease of access and usage.

The needs of rural communities are factored into this process, and into other ways in which we develop and assess policy and strategy, such as rural proofing of policies. This is in recognition of the fact that Shropshire is a large, predominantly rural and sparsely populated county. There are therefore practical challenges and costs for us and our partners in delivering services, and for communities in finding out about and accessing services.

The approach

The Shropshire assessment comprises two parts: a screening part, and a full report part.

Screening (part one) enables energies to be focused on the service changes for which there are potentially important equalities and human rights implications. If screening indicates that the impact is likely to be positive overall, or is likely to have a medium or low negative or positive impact on certain groups of people, a full report isn't required. Energies should instead focus on review and monitoring and ongoing evidence collection, enabling incremental improvements and adjustments that will lead to overall positive impacts for all groups in Shropshire.

A full report (part two) needs to be carried out where screening indicates that there are considered to be or likely to be significant negative impacts for certain groups of people, and/or where there are human rights implications. Where there's some uncertainty as to what decision to reach based on the evidence available, a full report is recommended, as it enables more evidence to be collected that will help the service area to reach an informed opinion.

The examples

A number of ESIIAs are published here on this page in one place. By creating an online library of ESIIAs, we hope to help internal and external audiences understand what's expected and why, and to show use made of impact assessments in decision making.

The learning

We keep the template under review, with the 2016 update including guidance to staff to think of the ESIIA as a standalone document, and to seek to include:

  • Evidence for the service change
  • Comparator information where applicable
  • Details about the numbers of service users or potential service users likely to be affected
  • Any known and anonymised data about whether they are in protected characteristic groupings

This helps to demonstrate the objectivity of the approach and show that, even where difficult decisions might be being planned or made, they're being made in light of careful consideration of the negative or positive consequences for all groupings. It's not necessarily about changing the decision; it’s about demonstrating the thought given to the anticipated impact, and that data will continue to be collected about service usage and actual impact to help develop and deliver any mitigating actions that may be warranted.