Identifying your audience
Identifying which groups, individuals and demographics to target for your consultation will be the first key task for change sponsors.
Building on the audience analysis already available, this work should aim to identify all potential people who may wish to participate in the consultation.
The following questions should help to generate a list of all audiences and stakeholders who you will then need to target:
- Who is directly impacted by this decision?
- Who is indirectly impacted by this decision?
- Who is potentially impacted by this decision?
- Who might provide access to specific audiences?
- Whose help is needed to make the decision work?
- Who knows about the subject?
- Who will have an interest in the subject?
To judge who is directly, indirectly or even potentially impacted by your proposals, change sponsors could first check maps showing the Lowest Observable Adverse Effect Level (LOAEL) and Significant Observable Adverse Effect Level (SOAEL). These will establish a baseline for determining noise impacts but should only be used as a starting point for identifying impacted audiences.
Other resources and sources of information will also be available to change sponsors, including knowledge held by the airport consultative committee, local authorities, voluntary and community sector organisations and local campaign and community groups.
Engaging with local external groups can ensure you capture all interested stakeholders and gain a better understanding of local networks, all of which can build stronger relationships in support of your consultation activity.
The change sponsor will be best placed to judge which activities to target where, ie in order to prioritise resources most effectively. More resource-intensive activity will need to be targeted where the impacts are greatest, and other methods and approaches should be used where the impact may be under the LOAEL or SOAEL, but people will notice a change whether better or worse.
Seldom heard audiences
While CAP1616 does not require a full equalities impact assessment, it is important to identify and understand the sections of the community that may have difficulty engaging with the consultation and who might find some of the proposed activities challenging.
CAP1616 requires the change sponsor to define the unique requirements of their audience and to ensure that they engage with any seldom heard groups impacted by the proposals. It would also be good practice to consider people from the protected characteristics groups listed in the Equality Act 2010, and to consider what methods of engagement are most appropriate for these audiences.
For your reference, The Equality Act 2010 was created to protect people against discrimination, harassment and victimisation and requires any public body to have due regard to the need to:
- Eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation and other conduct prohibited by the Act
- Advance equality of opportunity between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not
- Foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not
In exercising their functions, such as when making decisions and setting policies, public authorities are required to have due regard to the aims of the Public Sector Equality Duty of the Equality Act 2010 in relation to the nine protected characteristics of:
- Gender reassignment
- Marriage and civil partnership
- Pregnancy and maternity
- Religion or belief
- Sexual orientation
While the Equality Act places a statutory duty on public bodies, ICCAN believes it is good practice for change sponsors to give consideration to the Public Sector Equality Duty and how any proposals may impact on protected characteristics groups.
How to undertake an Equalities Impact Assessment
If you decide that it would be appropriate for your consultation, it is possible to meet the requirements of the equality duty by undertaking an equalities impact assessment. This is an assessment of the likely impact of your proposals on the nine protected characteristics groups, followed by direct engagement with impacted groups during the public consultation to ensure that all aspects of the potential impact have been considered and any potential mitigations identified.
Using an iterative approach to the analysis, with periodic updates to the assessment with any new information that arises, will ensure that any decisions are able to meet the ‘due regard’ requirement of the equality duty.
In practical terms, a simple tabular analysis will help to identify which groups are likely to be impacted by the proposals, the nature of the impact, and the evidence base which has been used to support the analysis, and how you will mitigate negative impacts or discrimination which may arise because of the proposals.
This analysis should be published as part of the consultation materials and then updated as part of the consultation reporting process with any new information or ideas for mitigation which are received.
Understanding which barriers could prevent engagement from taking place could help to identify those protected by the characteristics.
When you have identified the groups, ask yourselves these questions:
- Where will we locate these groups or individuals?
- Can we interact with them there?
- What ways can we use to attract their attention?
- What ways of communicating or networks do they tend to use?
- What messages would work best to encourage engagement?
- What sort of engagement would be most appropriate?
- What should we ask them and is this any different to other groups?
- What actions can we take to encourage future engagement and build a longer-term relationship?