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In 2006-07 the Council developed an approach to assess the impact of its policies and initiatives on the sector. It responds to the Council's legal responsibility to assess impact in the areas of race, gender and disability, and to promote equality and diversity. It also supports the Council’s commitment to assess its policies and initiatives for their impact on regulatory burden and sustainable development. The approach has been followed since August 2006.

An independent review by PricewaterhouseCoopers has examined its operation, in order to: evaluate the sector impact assessment process and its outputs one calendar year after the initiation of the process; provide comparisons with best practice in other sectors; and make recommendations for process improvements.

The report commends the Council’s approach. On its own initiative it has invested resource and made a commitment that impact is considered in all policy, initiative and significant project developments. The bringing together of all impact areas in one process is a clear example of good practice, as is the inclusion of senior staff, such as directors, in the process.

The report recommends that the Council should find a more systematic way to identify the areas for assessment, at an early stage, so that it can meet its commitments, while optimising human resources and minimising risk. The process needs to be better defined so that completion is not reliant on the willingness of individual staff members or the presentation of a Board paper.

Next steps are identified, including engagement with heads of policy, the mapping out of the process and clarity around the roles and responsibilities of staff at all levels within the process.