The EQIA has shown that the broad principles and policies set out in Best Start, Bright Futures, will be positive across many protected characteristics, in particular race, disability and sex. Actions are grounded in evidence of who is most at risk of child poverty, and the six priority family types identified within the plan are strongly correlated to protected characteristics. For some particular characteristics, including race, disability and sex, higher levels of poverty persist. Therefore, the targeted action for the priority family groups and wider action to reduce poverty through impacting on the drivers of child poverty, will be beneficial to these protected characteristics in particular, resulting in a strong potential for the plan to contribute to reducing discrimination and enhancing equality of opportunity. Whilst the plan has limited focus on fostering better relations between people of protected characteristics, the focus throughout the plan on addressing stigma and discrimination should, if implemented successfully, support this objective.
For other characteristics, we have limited data. We have found no evidence of negative consequences at this time, however, in line with best practice we will keep this under review as part of the monitoring of this EQIA.
Some policies and proposals included in the plan are only partially defined. As these policies develop, they will require their own EQIA to ensure that the specific barriers for each protected characteristic are fully considered. Once these policies are implemented, we will gain a better understanding of the difference each policy will make in reducing discrimination and enhancing opportunity.
Annex 2 of the Delivery Plan sets out an approach to assessing the impact of policies through evaluating individual policies and monitoring drivers and targets. The Plan states that wherever possible this impact assessment will include impacts by protected characteristic. This type of analysis will be important in making progress to further understand and address the specific barriers faced by people with certain protected characteristics.
Summary of recommendations:
- For some elements of the delivery plan, evidence on the intended or actual impact for people with protected characteristics is limited, particularly in relation to minority ethnic families. This EQIA recommends that, as part of overall monitoring and governance for the delivery plan, greater focus is placed on gathering, analysing and using this data to inform policy and programme modification, and future policy design and delivery.
- Recognising the limitations of quantitative data, particularly given the relatively small population of people in poverty with certain protected characteristics, this EQIA recommends maintaining and further strengthening collection and use of qualitative data, particularly the experience of people with protected characteristics living on a low income.
- Where some aspects of proposed delivery have potentially negative equality impacts, including the place based approach to delivery, specific, proactive measures should be taken from the outset to include equality stakeholders in policy development, design and monitoring, with as close to real-time monitoring as possible to identify any unintended consequences and remedy these as soon as practicable
- The new approaches to delivering holistic, person-centred, place-based approaches present an opportunity to integrate more intersectional analysis of the policy cycle, and this should be explored with stakeholders and embedded throughout the life of the delivery plan
- Policy specific EQIAs of pre-development policy should be carried out as early as possible, to inform the delivery of new commitments within the plan
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