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Watchdog pans DCLG impact assessments

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Concerns about the quality of government impact assessments have been raised after only 28% of reports scrutinised by the National Audit Office (NAO) met the required standards.

The watchdog said there was a “wide variation” in the quality of impact assessments, which are used to assess the need for and the likely impact of proposed government policy interventions.

Of the 50 reports the NAO based its findings on, nine were handed the lowest rating with the Department for Communities & Local Government (DCLG) contributing a third of those reports.

The so-called “red rating” indicated that the assessment “may not provide sufficient evidence to convince the reader that the right conclusion has been reached”. Three of the nine red rated assessments were by DCLG.

The three, all of which were housing related, were: Implementation of Cave Review of Social Housing Regulation, Exempting some Local Authorities from the HRA Subsidy System, and, Homeowners Mortgage Support Scheme.

Just 14 fulfilled all the requirements, only one of which was a DCLG assessment.

The report, Assessing the impact of proposed new policies, said further improvement in the quality and use of impact assessments is needed in order to achieve value for money.

It added: “Some impact assessments are of a high standard, but wide variation remains between the best and worst.

“Eighteen per cent of the NAO’s sample were assessed as ‘red’ because they may not provide sufficient evidence to convince the reader that the right conclusion has been reached. Over half had weaknesses with only 28% fully meeting reasonable quality standards.”

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