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UK Policy Briefing

Equality Impact Assessments and the Public Sector Equality Duty: Briefing for a new government

This briefing sets out why equality impact assessments are needed, what the law requires and current government practice.


Why assess equality impact

  • Women still face structural inequality throughout their lives. Gendered inequalities intersect with other structures of inequality including class, race and disability. This means that policy impacts differently on women and men, and on different groups of women and men.
  • Equality Impact Assessments are a way to ensure that policy makers take account of these different impacts when developing policy.

What the law says

  • The Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) requires public bodies to have ‘due regard’ to equality in all aspects of their work. Equality Impact Assessments are a way to ensure public bodies have met their legal obligations under the PSED.

Principles of equality impact assessment

  • Meaningful equality impact assessments should consider cumulative impact, intersectional impact, the impact on individuals as well as households, impact over a lifetime and the impact on unpaid care.
  • They should be based on evidence and consultation with those most likely to be affected by policy.

Government practice to date

  • Despite the obligations of the PSED, WBG has observed a pattern of poor quality impact assessments and, in some cases, a failure to carry out impact assessments at all.


  • All public bodies, including government departments, should carry out and publish meaningful equality impact assessments.
  • The Treasury should carry out and publish a cumulative impact assessment of the Budget every year and of periodic spending reviews.
  • Staff responsible for these impact assessments should be trained in equality impact to ensure that assessments are meaningful.

WBG’s expertise is on the gender impact of economic policy so this is our main area of focus. However, impact assessments are needed across all areas of policy, and should take account of impact of policy on all disadvantaged groups.