Debt Advice Peer Assessment Scheme (DAPA)

The Money and Pensions Service (MaPS) is the core funder for the provision of debt advice across England with access to high quality advice, central to its strategic function. Click here for further information

The Debt Advice Peer Assessment Scheme (DAPA), is one strand of this focus, providing a mechanism for specialist debt advisers to assess the quality of advice provided by their peers. Originally launched in 2015, the Scheme was drawn up with input from a range of organisations across the debt advice sector and with specific considerations to regulatory requirements (CONC 8).

DAPA considers the quality and process of advice delivered through the varying delivery models available. Variations of the scheme and its component criteria exist for the channels of both webchat and telephone advice provision in addition to the traditional face to face approach.

All assessment activity is completed by specialist level debt advisers, either employed directly by, or subcontracted to the DAPA Scheme.

Who Is It For

The objective of the DAPA Scheme is to consider the quality of advice provided to over-indebted individuals by organisations (Recipients and Participants) who are in receipt of grant funding from MaPS.

Participation with the Scheme is a mandatory requirement for all organisations in receipt of funding from MaPS. Performance during a DAPA assessment forms one part of a series of metrics that inform the MaPS Performance Management Framework. Each case file assessed will result in an assessment score benchmarked against the MaPS KPI requirements.

What is Assessed

The role of the DAPA Scheme is to examine the quality of advice and any associated actions that are carried out on behalf of the client, based on the evidence contained within the case record. The case is assessed against the DAPA Scheme criteria relevant to the channel being assessed i.e., Advice level, Casework, Webchat, Telephone and therefore where applicable, the assessment may extend to reviewing webchat transcripts and listening to audio recording. The information provided within the case record is mapped against the Scheme criteria using specialist debt advisers acting as Assessors.

Organisations providing debt advice generally follow a straightforward approach of explore, advice, and action for each client. The Child Poverty Action Debt Advice handbook provides a model for a staged approach to debt advice, outlined in three key stages, via Exploration; Options and Action, split further into nine steps, per the diagram below. This model is widely accepted within the debt advice sector and has informed the development of both the DAPA Scheme and assessment criteria. However, it is also recognised that there may be legitimate reasons based on the specific debt issue presented, where this model is not followed, or that the linear approach is not taken, and these factors are given appropriate consideration in the assessment process.

In conjunction with quality of advice, the assessment also considers process and DAPA Assessors will therefore assess Case Recording and Case Management issues in addition to the quality and accuracy of advice. Therefore, to ensure the consistency and success of a DAPA assessment, an Assessor will:

  • Consider the evidence presented in an impartial and objective way.
  • Only consider the evidence contained within the case record/chat transcript/audio recording.
  • Not assume anything. If the DAPA Assessor is not able to evidence what they are looking for from the case transcript, the score will be reflective of this.
  • Focus on whether the outcome and the solution were the most appropriate option for the client’s individual circumstances, based upon the facts presented.

The fundamental nature of peer assessment is it involves the judgement of an experienced practitioner. The assessment process will consider, from the evidence presented whether the adviser has demonstrated they have dealt with the case effectively.

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