To support this, we undertake Equality Impact Assessments (EIAs) at an early stage of procurement so that we can understand and evaluate the impact of our intended approach on people with protected characteristics (as set out in the Public Sector Equality Duty) and make sure we are addressing any area of potential disadvantage.
Following the conclusion of the procurement process, the impact assessments are reviewed with the successful bidders to make sure that what they will deliver meets our expectations and responsibilities. This could include making sure that there are adaptations in place to ensure that services are equally available to deaf or visually impaired clients, those with limited mobility or other physical disabilities, or people with poor mental health. Having completed those reviews with the successful bidders we would then publish the impact assessments on the MaPS website. This process is standard practice within public sector procurement exercises.
The research and resources referenced in the impact assessments are a combination of MaPS-funded and external research from the debt advice sector. At the time of drafting the impact assessments in June 2021, new MaPS debt need research was not completed, therefore MaPS took the decision to base the assessments on information that was available and current at the time of drafting. However, the new debt need survey research will be taken into consideration as part of the review of the assessments with successful bidders.
Our original plan was to publish the EIAs once we had reviewed them with the successful bidders to make sure they are complete and take into account how the bidders will ensure the accessibility and inclusivity of their services. However, we know that there has been a lot of interest in these EIAs and we have received Freedom of Information (FOI) Act requests for us to share them. Understanding this interest and to be as transparent as possible, we have taken the decision to publish them today alongside responding to the FOI request.
We will work with external experts across these protected characteristics to take into account their views and lived experiences so that we can all be confident that our services meet the needs of everyone we are here to serve.