Showing the equality impact

This guidance is for advice managers who manage welfare benefits advice. It offers tips and tools to show how you can demonstrate the equality impacts of the welfare benefits advice you deliver, using the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) Measurement Framework.

For example, your advisers have helped an agoraphobic client who was repeatedly refused a home based medical assessment by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP). The client’s benefits were stopped as a sanction when she failed to attend an assessment over an hour away. Your advisers were able to get her benefits restored and alternative arrangements were made for an assessment that took into account her disability.

The advice given to her improved her standard of living, health and participation in society. She was also given advice that reduced the risk of further discrimination and disadvantage. This guide will help you to show the equality impacts of the welfare benefits advice given to that client, and other disabled clients, using the EHRC Measurement Framework. It will help you to:

  • record the impact your welfare benefits advice has had on reducing inequality
  • understand and show how important it is to demonstrate the impact advice can have on inequality
  • understand how welfare benefits advice can help clients who are at risk of inequality or experiencing inequality
  • demonstrate the impact and value of your welfare benefits advice work to partners and potential funders
  • plan and build future projects and funding bids.

What is the EHRC Measurement Framework?

In October 2017, the EHRC published a new Measurement Framework for Equality and Human Rights. Its overall purpose is to support the EHRC to comply with their statutory duty (under section 12 of the Equality Act 2006) to monitor social outcomes from an equality and human rights perspective. In other words, to measure ‘Is Britain fairer?’

The Measurement Framework has six themes (also called domains). These are:

  • Education
  • Work
  • Living standards
  • Health
  • Justice and personal security
  • Participation

The Measurement Framework uses these themes to monitor progress on tackling inequality in each of these areas.

How does this guide use the EHRC Measurement Framework?

This guide uses some of the broad principles of the Measurement Framework and simplifies them. Please note:

  • this guide is not a rigorous monitoring impact tool. The Measurement Framework is much longer, detailed and rigorous
  • you can use this simple guide as a springboard to develop and pilot your own specific impact tools.

To show the equality impact of the welfare benefits advice that you provide, take these three simple steps:

Step One: Make a three-column blank table. Starting in the third, right-hand column, list the six equality themes of the Measurement Framework, e.g. standard of living. In the second, middle column, add the framework definition for each equality theme.

Step Two: Make a separate list of all the kinds of welfare benefits advice that you provide.

  • Tip: This should include things like ‘advice on Universal Credit and work-related activity groups’
  • Tip: Your list should also include the location or setting of your welfare benefits advice service, if it is relevant to the impact of the advice you provide. For example, if you provide advice in a GP surgery
  • Tip: Use the examples in the table below to help you build your list
  • Tip:  If you code the advice you provide, add those advice issue codes to your list.

Step Three: Go to the three-column table you created in step one. Add all the examples of the kinds of welfare benefits advice you provide into the first (left hand) column of the table. When you do this, match each example of welfare benefits advice with at least one of the six equality themes in the Measurement Framework.

  • Tip: You can match one example of welfare benefits advice with more than one equality theme. For example, ‘advice on benefits take-up which is given in a health setting’ could contribute to both the ‘Standard of living’ theme and the ‘Health’ theme, so you enter that twice, one entry for each theme
  • Tip: If you are not sure which equality theme is relevant, take a look at the deeper explanations in the EHRC Measurement Framework. You can find these in Section Five of the full Measurement Framework, or you can look at the EHRC’s quick and easy one-page guides for each theme
  • Tip: You can use the downloadable table template below as a starting point to develop your own table
  • Tip: If you also record outcomes for your advice work, go through the three-step process again, adding another column to include those outcome codes.

You can then use this table to help you monitor and demonstrate the equality impact of all your welfare benefits advice.

Example of welfare benefits advice Framework definition Six framework equality themes
Advice on appropriate participation in Universal Credit conditionality groups e.g. work preparation To be knowledgeable, to understand and reason, and have the skills and opportunity to participate in parenting, the labour market and in society Education
Advice on appropriate participation in Universal Credit conditionality groups e.g. work related

Advice on available support from Access to Work scheme, to enable disabled people to work

To work in just and favourable conditions, to have the value of your work recognised, even if unpaid, to not be prevented from working and be free from slavery, forced labour and other forms of exploitation  Work
Welfare benefits advice provided in health settings: solving non-health issues which cause health problems To be healthy, physically and mentally, being free in matters of sexual relationships and reproduction, having autonomy over care and treatment, and being cared-for in the final stages of your life Health
Advice on benefits entitlements: benefits check; benefits take up campaigns To enjoy an adequate standard of living, with independence and security, and be cared for and supported when necessary Living standards
Advice and representation that enables challenges (e.g. mandatory reconsideration and appeals) to welfare benefit decisions To avoid premature mortality, live in security, and know you will be protected and treated fairly by the law Justice and personal security
Advice on access to digital services, including making and maintaining online Universal Credit claims

Advice on bedroom tax and benefit cap, where there is a risk that they will impact on family life

To participate in decision-making and in communities, to access services, to know that your privacy will be respected, and to be able to express yourself Participation

By adding extra layers to your Welfare Benefits Advice Equality Impact Tool, you will then see the equality impact of your advice for your clients. For example, you can see how welfare benefits advice can help women, or older people, or children.

Client profile

The EHRC Measurement Framework uses evidence that will be familiar to most advice organisations, including evidence that may be collected (with consent) as part of client profile information. These include the Equality Act protected characteristics, socio-economic groupings, other at-risk groups, and geographical location.

If your client profile includes data for those fields, then you should add those into to your impact tool, to give greater depth to your analysis. This is particularly important in the context of welfare benefits advice, because we know from the welfare reform research done by the EHRC that welfare reform has impacted on different groups of people in different ways.

The examples in the table below are not exhaustive. They are a guide to the different groups and their experience of inequality in relation to the themes in the Measurement Framework. This list of examples includes protected characteristics (for example age or race). It also includes other groupings, for example, carers.

Six framework equality themes Framework definition People who are likely to experience disadvantage, inequality and hardship 
Education To be knowledgeable, to understand and reason, and have the skills and opportunity to participate in parenting, the labour market and in society Children with disabilities or Special Educational Needs
Mature students.
People in lower socio-economic groups
Refugees and asylum seekers
Migrant workers
Work To work in just and favourable conditions, to have the value of your work recognised, even if unpaid, to not be prevented from working and be free from slavery, forced labour and other forms of exploitation Disabled people
Carers
People with dependents
Older people
People working in precarious employment
Women
Health To be healthy, physically and mentally, being free in matters of sexual relationships and reproduction, having autonomy over care and treatment, and being cared-for in the final stages of your life Lone parent families
Disabled children
Disabled people including people with learning disabilities, physical, sensory and mobility disabilities
Those with long-term health conditions
Migrant workers
Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities
Refugees and asylum seekers
Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities
Living standards To enjoy an adequate standard of living, with independence and security, and be cared for and supported when necessary Low waged, and benefit claimants
Located in area which ranks highly on the Indices of Multiple Deprivation
Children at risk of below poverty living
People working in precarious employment
Justice and personal security To avoid premature mortality, live in security, and know you will be protected and treated fairly by the law Children and young people Disabled children and children in care
Disabled adults
People who live in high ranking Indices of Multiple Deprivation areas.
Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities
Women
Muslim people
Transgender people
Lesbian, gay, bisexual people
Older and younger people.
Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities
Migrant workers
Refugees and asylum seekers
People who require advocates
Participation To participate in decision-making and in communities, to access services, to know that your privacy will be respected, and to be able to express yourself Disabled people
Children and young people
People in residential care
Young people in care (looked after children)
Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities
Welsh language speakers

People who are at higher risk of harm, abuse, discrimination or disadvantage

The EHRC Measurement Framework says:

“An individual can be at higher risk of harm, abuse, discrimination or disadvantage if they face adverse external conditions and/or have difficulty coping due to individual circumstances.”

There are certain groups of people who are at higher risk of disadvantage, discrimination, harm or abuse, compared with the rest of the population. Welfare benefits advice is hugely important for those groups of people. It can help reduce their risk of experiencing harm or abuse, discrimination or disadvantage. Some examples of adverse external conditions and individual circumstances are described below.

Some people can be at higher risk if they face adverse external conditions. For example:

  • They are not getting enough support. It could be that a particular service provider, such as social services, is not providing adequate support for an older person.
  • There is inadequate support for their legal rights. This could be: limited access to legal advice, inadequate legal protection, limited access to legal justice, or limited legal redress.
  • Discriminatory attitudes and stigma. For example, stigma faced by people with mental health conditions or discriminatory attitudes towards people seeking asylum or refugee status.

Some people can also be at higher risk if they have difficulty coping due to their personal circumstances. For example:

  • A lack of resources. This could be:
    • personal resources, such as good mental health, ability to speak English, or confidence;
    • social resources, such as social networks or family support.
  • A lack of resilience. This could be: difficulties in accessing and using resources because of a lack of information, confidence or experience.
  • Personal characteristics. This could be: age; a long-term health condition; or family situation.

Sometimes the combination of adverse external conditions and individual circumstances cause additional barriers and risks. For example:

Barriers in the labour market plus family caring responsibilities can increase economic exclusion – such as when an older, female carer is looking for stable work.

This table  is adapted from the EHRC Measurement Framework (Table 4.1 People at higher risk of harm abuse discrimination or disadvantage). The fourth column gives examples of the kind of welfare benefits advice that can help to reduce the risk of harm, abuse discrimination or disadvantage for that particular group of clients. You can use this table as a starting point for your own analysis.

People at higher risk of harm, abuse, discrimination or disadvantage External conditions Individual circumstances Example of welfare benefits advice
Carers:
Children and adults who provide regular unpaid personal help for a friend or family member with a long-term illness, health problem or disability
Insufficient financial or other support from the state and public authorities Lack of resources (including financial resources and, supportive networks)
Physical or mental impairments
Disengagement from education (children) or employment (adults)
Multiple caring responsibilities
Unemployment
Advice about benefits for carers
People who are homeless:
People who have already lost, or who have been threatened with or are at risk of losing, their homes, or whose housing is unfit for occupation
Insufficient support from local authority
Insufficient suitable housing
Insufficient income from employment to meet housing costs
Lack of resources (including financial resources and supportive networks)
Poor mental health
Unemployment
Discriminatory attitudes and stigma
Advice about housing benefit
Discretionary Housing Payment

The EHRC Measurement Framework describes three types of outcomes evidence.   If you already record outcomes for your advice work, then you can use these broad categories to help you measure your equality impacts. The three types of outcomes are:

  • Achievement of capability. These outcomes show what people can achieve in practice: being healthy, being educated, living in security.
  • Treatment. These outcomes are about improving or changing the inequality in treatment which is caused by discrimination or disadvantage by other individuals or institutions and systems: improving dignity and respect, confidence, better procedures or treatment.
  • Autonomy. These outcomes are about the inequality in the degree of empowerment that people have in making decisions affecting their lives, and how much choice and control they really have given their circumstances: empowerment, confidence, ability to exercise or access legal advice or legal rights in future.

For more detailed information about the EHRC Measurement Framework, visit the EHRC website.

Next Steps

Find out how to get involved in the Everyday Equality project.