What is an Impact Assessment?

An Impact Assessment (previously known as a Regulatory Impact Assessment, or 'RIA') is an important exercise that helps determine the most appropriate way to implement regulation. Impact Assesments are designed to assess the costs and benefits of new proposals for addressing regulation issues, and facilitate the development of creative, flexible and informed policies.

Providing a framework for analysis of the likely impact of a policy change and the range of options for implementing it, an Impact Assessment helps to:

  • clarify the objectives of a proposal
  • ascertain the full impact of any proposals - economic, social and environmental
  • identify and assess alternative options for achieving a policy goal
  • ensure a consultation exercise is meaningful and reaches the widest possible range of stakeholders
  • inform negotiations in the EU
  • determine whether the benefits justify the costs
  • determine whether particular groups may be disproportionately affected

An Impact Assessment must be impartial and objective, and must review a wide range of options. The integrity of Impact Assessments is scrutinised by the Better Regulation Executive - this link opens in a new window and the National Audit Office- this link opens in a new window