Island communities impact assessments: guidance - consultation

Our islands face particular challenges around distance, geography, connectivity and demography, so it is important that policy makers consider these properly. The consultation on the guidance will help ensure that islands receive fair treatment tailored to their unique circumstances.

Carrying out your Island Communities Impact Assessment

Step One – Develop a clear understanding of your objectives:

A good ICIA will be most effective when considered early and throughout the whole duration of development and implementation of your policy, strategy or service. We strongly suggest that you begin your ICIA at the very beginning of your work so that the needs of island communities are held in mind as you develop your thinking. 

Your first step should be to develop a clear understanding of the objectives and intended outcomes of the policy, strategy or service and then, more specifically, to identify if there are explicit island needs or any potential direct or indirect impacts for island communities. Remember to think about each island individually because what might not have any impact on one, may impact adversely on another.

Things to remember in Step One:

  • If your policy, strategy or service is a regional or area-based one or if it is intended to have the same impact across the region or area, you should think about whether there are potential island impacts which differ from the regional impact or whether there are any barriers which may unfairly disadvantage islanders.
  • For policies, strategies, plans and services which are wholly or mainly aimed at island communities, you should consider whether there is a need to adapt your plans to account for variations across island communities. Island communities are unique and there can be lots of variation across things like proximity to services, transport links and infrastructure.
  • If your policy, strategy or service is mainland focused, you should consider if there is a corresponding need in island communities, and think about how this has been otherwise taken into account or catered for.
  • It’s also a good idea to identify any benefits for the island community, such as betteraccess to services.

Step Two – Gather your data and identify your stakeholders:

In Step Two, you should begin to dig deeper and examine the differences that occur in islands communities, and between island groups, in contrast to mainland Scotland. Where possible, robust island data should be considered to identify these differences - this can include statistics, stakeholder views and other data. 

You may already have evidence from consultations, customer feedback and monitoring exercises that you could refer to. You could also draw on additional information such as national surveys and any available island level data. You might also find it helpful to look at the Right First Time[6] practical guide for public authorities in Scotland to decision-making.

Once you’ve considered what the evidence tells you about the impact and whether this is different for island communities or between island groups, you should consider whether there are any gaps in your information and how these should be filled. Do you need this information before you can carry out an ICIA or is gathering further information to be one of your recommendations?

Things to remember in Step Two:

  • You might want to consider working with island experts and contacts from different organisations such as the Scottish Islands Federation. 
  • Make sure that you give yourself enough time to carefully collate and consider all of the available data and information. 

Step Three – Consultation:

In Step Three you should start to speak to the people likely to be affected by your policy, strategy or service. Consultation can give you lots of good information on the likely impact of your work, as well as providing you with a wider context relating to specific islands and the people who live on them. However, carrying out a consultation is just one of the arrangements that the Relevant Authorities may find useful when reviewing their policies, strategies and services.  

The most appropriate stakeholders to engage with will vary from case to case, but you should make it easy for people to give their views by using meetings as well as written consultations, ensuring materials are available in different formats such as large print or in appropriate languages like Gaelic. You should give particular consideration to island communities and how best to ensure ease of participation and it’s important to remember that not everybody on an island has or chooses to have access to the internet. We suggest that your questions are tailored and directed specifically to island communities in respect of any proposal.

Things to remember in Step Three:

  • Make your consultation materials available in Gaelic and any other appropriate language.
  • You might want to consider using local print media, local radio and posters as not every island has reliable access to the web. Don’t rely on people looking things up on the internet. 
  • Think about the weather and travel. Getting to the islands can be tricky at certain times of the year. You may want to think about holding your consultation events virtually. 
  • Consider speaking to the Scottish Government’s Islands Team who will be able to give you advice on how best to reach out to island communities. 
  • Are there any other consultations or processes that you could piggy back onto?
  • Consider developing a communication plan for reaching your target audience, and encouraging and using input and feedback? 

Step Four – Assessment:

Once you’ve carried out your consultation, you should set out your analysis of the results or outcomes, the needs of island communities and the potential impacts of your work. We’ve provided you with a template at Annex B which you could use to record your findings. It might be that there are no significant impacts on the island community, but you should still be careful to record this and evidence the process in reaching that conclusion.

We’ve included here some questions which you could consider when thinking about the potential impact of your work on island communities:

A key issue for islands is the relatively small number of children and young people and people of working age.

Key things to consider:

Q. Does your proposal take into consideration the current demographic structure of the islands and the challenges faced by populations that might have a greater percentage of older people than other areas? 

Q. Could your policy exacerbate the islands’ demographic challenges? For example, could it encourage young people to leave the island?

The islands’ main industries are significant employers and make a vital contribution to wellbeing as well as being extremely important from an environmental perspective.

Key things to consider:

Q. Will your policy, strategy or service have any particular impacts on the key island industries and, therefore, on the islands’ economies and environments?

Q. Will your policy, strategy or service have an impact on the islands’ infrastructure or natural environment?

Q. If a fast or high-capacity broadband or mobile network will play a significant part in implementing your policy, strategy or service how can alternative mechanisms be used to ensure fair access for the islands? 

Q. Will your policy, strategy or service have any impact on the types of small businesses which are a feature of the islands’ economies?  Specifically, if the policy is to be delivered through suppliers, will there be a requirement for those suppliers to meet accreditation standards that are more difficult for islands companies to achieve?

Q.  Has the cost and time taken in travelling between island communities been taken into consideration – particularly for those on low incomes and reliant on infrequent public transport? 

Deprivation and social exclusion in the islands tends to be dispersed, unlike more populated areas where there is a tendency for deprivation to be concentrated.

Key things to consider:

Q. If a measure of deprivation is to be used to target your initiative; does it take into account dispersed deprivation in islands?

Q. Will your policy have a cost of living impact? Is there any risk that impact could be in island communities?

Q. Will your policy have an impact on households experiencing fuel poverty? 

Q. Does your policy make any consideration for the part-time and self-employed nature of many island jobs?  The availability of childcare provision in island communities being of particular relevance.

You may consider at this step that further, more refined, consultation would help you form your opinion.

Once you’ve finished your assessment, you need to decide if you need to do an ICIA. Section 8[7] is the relevant part of the Islands Act. If you decide that you don’t, you will need to publish as soon as reasonably practicable, your reasons for not carrying out an ICIA. The flow chart that accompanies this guide sets this out for you.

Things to remember in Step Four:

  • Have you considered what the potential barriers or wider impacts might be and how you aim to address these. You should have regard to demographic, economic and social considerations.
  • Are the differences you’ve identified significantly different for the island community compared to mainland or other islands?
  • Have you considered if any effects amount to a disadvantage for an island community compared to the mainland or between island groups?
  • Have you recorded your findings carefully in case you are asked to carry out a review of your ICIA?
  • If you have concluded that you do not need to carry out an ICIA, where will you publish your reasons for not doing one?

Step Five – Preparing your ICIA:

Step 5 is preparing the Island Communities Impact Assessment itself. You should look at the criteria specified in Section 8(3) of the Act[8].  This is mandatory and so it’s important to take care when compiling your ICIA. The Act state that you need to:

  • Describe the likely significant different effect of the policy, strategy or service; and
  • Assess the extent to which you consider that the policy strategy or service can be developed or delivered in such a manner as to improve or mitigate, for island communities, the outcomes resulting from it.

Once you have described the likely significant different effect of your proposal, you will need to think of ways to deal with this. You should consider whether you can make changes that could improve or mitigate, for island communities, the outcomes resulting from it.

Things to remember in Step Five:

  • Have you set out clearly any impacts or effects of your work?
  • Have you used plain language?
  • Do you need to make your ICIA available in any other languages? 

Step Six – Making adjustments to your work:

By Step Six, you should have a range of information from which to draw some conclusions and make recommendations. 

You should decide if you are rejecting the policy, strategy or service, improving or adjusting it or simply adopting it as proposed. If you decide that you need to make some adjustments, you should remember that delivery mechanisms could vary across different island communities – what might work for one island, may not work for another even if that island is in the same local authority area or archipelago. 

You might want to pilot the policy, strategy or service or some of the mitigations in order to assess whether you can achieve your objectives without adverse effect. Or, you may consider using  island-specific indicators or targets for monitoring purposes.

It’s important that you continue to consider the needs of islands as you develop your adjustments.

Things to remember in Step Six:

  • Make sure you have all the information you need to consider if you need to make any adjustments.
  • If the outcome of the ICIA (that has been properly carried out), is that nothing can be done to mitigate the effect of your policy, strategy or service is there a need to further justify the adverse impact that the policy may have?
  • If you don’t need to make any adjustments, can you clearly set out why?
  • Do you need to adjust the objectives you set out in Step one?
  • Do you need to pilot your proposals or mitigations?

Step Seven: Publishing your ICIA:

It’s important that you keep stakeholders, relevant colleagues and Minister updated on your progress, and when you’re ready to publish your ICIA.  

It will be important to record assessments where no ICIA was carried out. Section 12 of the Act[9] requires Relevant Authorities to publish information about the steps they’ve taken to comply with Section 7[10] during a reporting period. You should also share your ICIA with everyone you consulted with so that they can see the outcome of your work. 

Your ICIA should be completed by the individuals responsible for the policy, strategy or service within the Relevant Authority and it should be approved and signed-off by a Senior Member of the organisation. In the Scottish Government, this should be Ministerial level. 

We can publish your ICIA for your on our website. Relevant Authorities may also wish to make their ICIA’s available on their own platforms.

Section 12 of the Act also requires a Relevant Authority to publish information about the steps it has taken to comply with the Section 7 duty during a reporting period. A reporting period is any period determined by the Relevant Authority of up to a maximum of one year. Relevant Authorities can publish the information in any way it considers appropriate (for example in an annual or other report). We suggest that  Relevant Authorities publish the information on their own websites.

We’ve provided an Annual Reporting Return Assessment Template for you at Annex C of this guide to help Relevant Authorities (with the exception of the Scottish Ministers) to comply with the publication requirements under the Section 12 duty.

Things to remember in Step Seven:

  • Have you arranged to have your ICIA signed-off by a senior member of your Relevant Authority?
  • Have you decided where you will publish your ICIA?
  • Have you decided how you will comply with the reporting requirement in Section 12 of the Act?



Back to top