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Equality impact assessments

The Public Sector Equality Duty requires the Council to assess the impact of applying a proposed new or revised policy or practice against the needs of the general equality duty and to publish the results of the assessment. As a general fail safe rule if the policy or practice is about people then you should proceed with an equality impact assessment.  

The Fairer Scotland Duty requires the Council to actively consider what more it can do to reduce the inequalities of outcome, caused by socio-economic disadvantage, in any strategic decision-making or policy development context, and publish a written assessment, showing how it has done this.

On this page and within the list below you will find guidance, information and statistics to help you complete the assessments required by the two duties. Please note the combined assessment form is interim pending internal review and further guidance from the Scottish Government.

Equality Act 2010 Protected Characteristics

Here you can access information on the different characteristics that are protected and subject to equality impact assessments.

  • The Equality Evidence Finder is a Scottish Government resource which brings together a wide range of national and sub-national equality evidence, allowing users to find evidence by policy area and by equality characteristic.
  • The EHRC gives information on the specific characteristics.
  • In the Equality Act 2010 you can access information and resources, the public sector equality duty and the nine protected characteristics of the Act, including age, disability, gender re-assignment and race.

Low Income

Low income is a key driver of a range of negative outcomes and can be defined in a range of ways. Relative poverty (after housing costs) is a useful headline measure, looking at the number of individuals living in households in Scotland with incomes below 60% of UK median income. Statistics on absolute poverty (which looks at whether households’ living standards are changing over time) and persistent poverty (where households live in poverty for 3 years out of 4) are also available. Poverty statistics can in most cases be broken down by age group, and breakdowns by gender, ethnicity, disability, tenure and urban/ rural are also available. These show minority ethnic groups and households with a disabled adult or child with much higher poverty rates. Some key links are provided here.

However, looking at headline statistics in isolation can sometimes offer a limited perspective on low income. Experience of poverty, for example, is gendered, even though official statistics show broadly similar rates of poverty between men and women. Largely, this is a function of looking at household poverty – in which women’s and men’s incomes are considered together as joint incomes This conceals key differences, not least women’s lower pay, greater likelihood of part-time working and care responsibilities, and the gender pay gap. It also conceals how different groups of men and women fare: lone parents (mostly women) and single adults who live alone (mostly men) are much more likely to live in poverty. Detailed analysis, then, can help form a more useful picture for tackling inequalities of outcome than headline statistics alone.

Low Wealth

Having access to wealth (including financial products, equity from housing, and a decent pension) provides some protection from socioeconomic disadvantage, particularly when the wealth comes in the form of accessible savings. Savings can help households deal with problems that arise on a day-to-day basis. But we know from analysis of wealth and assets in Scotland that wealth inequality is much deeper than income inequality and that the least wealthy 30% of households owned very little or no financial, private pension or property wealth, and less than 7% of physical wealth in 2012/14. Single adult households, including lone parent households, again had very high risks of low wealth: nearly two thirds of lone parent households and over half of single working age households were low wealth households in 2012/14. Nearly half of low wealth households were in employment; households with lower educational qualifications and in routine or manual occupations had significantly higher risks of low wealth.


Material Deprivation

Refers to households being unable to access basic goods and services and, in data terms, tends to focus on families with children and on pensioner households. Obviously, if households cannot afford to buy items like home contents insurance, a warm winter coat for children or don’t have money to repair/replace broken electrical goods, this could impact on outcomes. For example, disadvantaged children and young people, who lack access to IT hardware and broadband services at home, may find homework more challenging, and this may then impact on the attainment gap.

Material deprivation has complex links with low income. Some households will be on a low income, but still have the basic necessities they need to get by, perhaps because they built them up over time; or perhaps relatives and friends help out; or they may be able to draw on some savings. Other households may be unable to afford many basic goods and services, even though their income is a bit higher – perhaps because they need to pay off debt, or only recently started a new job after a period of unemployment. Again, there are equality dimensions here too. For households with children, women as traditionally the main carers of children (and sometimes other adults too) may go without themselves to provide for those they are looking after. Minority ethnic families tend to be larger, which means more resources are needed to meet basic needs. Similarly, disabled families – with a disabled adult or child – may need additional help and support to meet basic needs and the specialist help they may require (people and equipment) can often be costly.

Area Deprivation

Living in a deprived area can exacerbate negative outcomes for individuals and households already affected by issues of low income. The most deprived areas face significant challenges; and this is particularly the case for deep-rooted deprivation – for example, those areas that have been consistently among the 5% most deprived in Scotland since SIMD 2004.

The Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) is the official Scottish Government tool for identifying areas of multiple deprivation in Scotland. But it is not the only tool and in some contexts it will be important to look at other data and/or combine SIMD data with other evidence to get a full picture. SIMD datasets can be found via the links on this page.

However, socio-economic disadvantage is not always experienced in neat concentrations of people in recognisable communities. Indeed, two out of three people who are income deprived do not live in deprived areas. So while it may be appropriate in many cases to take an approach focused on areas of multiple deprivation, there will also be a need to look at deprivation as it affects particular communities of place or communities of interest.

Communities of Place

Refers to people who are bound together because of where they reside,work, visit or otherwise spend a continuous portion of their time. For example, people in particular rural, remote and island areas face a particular set of circumstances which exacerbate disadvantage – for example poverty is often hidden in smaller communities; cost of living and accessibility of transport, education and employment impact more negatively on rural populations.

Communities of Interest

Communities of interest refers to groups of people who share an identity, for example British Sign Language users, the Afro-Caribbean community; or those who share an experience, for example people who have experienced homelessness or care; or those who share one or more of the protected characteristic listed in the Equality Act 2010. For example, consideration of the impact of strategic decisions on care leavers, asylum seekers, the Trans community, minority ethnic communities, women and girls, disabled people etc may help develop a deeper understanding of the socio-economic impacts. Data for small populations is often problematic because of the small sample sizes but these are areas where raising awareness by talking to people with lived experiences will be particularly important.

Other useful information:

fairer-scotland-duty-guidance-public-bodies (1)
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assessing impact and the psed
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NLC Equality and Fairer Scotland Impact Assessment Form
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Date modified: 18-07-2023
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Date modified: 25-01-2023
Updated on 25th January 2023

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