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Impact Assessments are required for proposals that are not regulatory in source but nevertheless impose costs on public sector or third–sector organisations that deliver public services. For example, changes to reporting requirements, revisions to criteria for releasing funding and the imposition of new targets could all have an impact on costs which should be assessed. However, a proportionate approach should be used. If the cost of the proposal is below £5 million and is not likely to attract high levels of political or media interest, only a development/options stage Impact Assessment is necessary – see the Impact Assessment Guidance from the link below for an explanation of these stages.
You should use the Impact Assessment process when considering whether a proposal impacts solely on public services. However, the content of the Assessment should be proportionate to the problem involved and the size of the proposal.
At the very beginning of thinking about the policy you should undertake an Impact Assessment at the development and/or options stages. This involves identifying the policy problem, gathering evidence, considering the rationale for government intervention, specifying objectives and considering options for delivering the outcome. You should also think through possible impacts on service delivery and the staff supporting it.
Local authority costs – If your proposal would lead to an overall increase in local authority cost by over £100,000 a year your department will be responsible for providing the funding under the new burdens doctrine.
Defining Public Services: Office of Public Sector Information: Schedule 1 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 contains an extensive list of public authorities, and serves as a useful reference for departments. However, the list is not definitive and in case of doubt, you should contact your departmental legal advisors to discuss and determine the type of function.
Departmental Gateways: A fully functioning Gateway is a process for managing the quality and quantity of policy initiatives issued to local delivery organisations by a central government department. (See Department of Health: Gateways). A typical process is centralised within the department, integrates input from relevant stakeholders and staff, and incorporates a set of criteria to regulate standards and the proportionality of each initiative against business requirements. A development/options stage Impact Assessment for the public sector may be integrated with the Gateway criteria but you must consult the BRE when the Gateway decides to set monetary thresholds that differ from those outlined above. This is distinct from OGC Gateway Project Reviews.