There are different types of Information and Advice services offered within the advice sector and the definitions below are based on a combination of the depth of advice available from your service and where responsibility lies for moving the case forward.
The type of advice service you deliver will help you determine which AQS accreditation route is most appropriate for your service.
N.B. For the different levels of AQS Accreditation please see the Levels of Accreditation page
The different types of advice services in the sector are set out below:
- Information Service
- Advice Service
- Advice with Casework
- Telephone Advice
Information Service – An information service gives clients the information they need, for them to know and do more about their situation. It can include information about rights, policies and practices; and about national and local services and agencies. Responsibility for taking any further action rests with the client. An information service may include:
- providing general information – e.g. leaflets or an information kiosk provided in a reception or waiting area. Clients select the information they want themselves and there is no direct guidance by a receptionist or other staff member
- signposting – e.g. providing factual information about the role of another organisation or how to find or contact that organisation
- assisting clients to find information that relates to their enquiry – e.g. providing clients with leaflets, website addresses or other details which will help them contact other organisations, such as the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)
Advice Service – an advice service involves all the activities covered by the information service plus the following:
- diagnosing the client’s legal problem and any related legal matters
- identifying relevant legislation and deciding how it applies to a client’s particular circumstances, including identifying the
- implications and consequences of such action and grounds for taking action
- providing information on matters relevant to the problem, including: – advice on next steps – identifying dates by which action must be taken in order to secure a client’s rights
- helping a client with debt problems to draw up a financial statement and negotiate a repayment schedule. However, after receiving advice, the client would carry out any action needed
- helping the client to complete a claim form (e.g. for a social security benefit) which requires the adviser to understand the legal issue: (e.g. the criteria for the award of a particular benefit)
- advising a client on the merit of their case or telling a client that the adviser has not assessed the merit and then signposting or referring the client to an agency which can advise on merit if the client so wishes
- referring or sign-posting a client to another source of help, having first assessed the nature of the query and the level of advice or help needed: e.g. a client seeking advice following relationship breakdown is given advice on a welfare benefits matter but also sign-posted to a solicitor for help with a family problem
- drafting, or helping a client to draft, letters to third parties. In general, correspondence will be from the client, not from the advice provider
- making telephone calls for a client to request information, to carry out one-off negotiations or check the progress of an enquiry. (e.g. where a client is unable to make calls themselves). For practical reasons, it may not be possible to make these calls while the client is present. This may mean that calls are made after the advice session and the client is asked to make a further appointment to find out the results of the call.
Advice with Casework – includes taking action on behalf of the client to move the case on including negotiating on behalf of the client with third parties on the telephone by letter or face to face. It will involve your service taking responsibility for follow-up work.
An advice with casework service may include the advice provider:
- taking action to obtain detailed information from a third party in order to resolve a client’s problem
- challenging the decision or action of a third party
- corresponding or negotiating with third parties, to protect a client’s rights or interests. This will go beyond simple requests for information
- undertaking a large volume of work on a given matter and/or over an extended period of time. This does not need to comprise a challenge to a third party
- any work the advice provider undertakes on behalf of the client – even if the client agrees to take some action him/herself
- representation at a court or tribunal where there are no complex matters of law to present: e.g. a Disability Living Allowance appeal where the issues are factual ones relating to the level of a client’s care need
- Consumer/General Contract
- Health and Community Care
- Welfare Benefits
- Asylum Seekers and Refugees
- Older People
- Discrimination and Harrassment
- Young People
Telephone Advice – Organisations that provide by telephone, legal advice or services as a part or all of its work at either Advice Level or Advice with Casework Level can be assessed against additional telephone standards to be awarded the Advice Quality Standard with telephone.
The requirements of the telephone level should be read in conjunction with either the ‘Advice’ Level or ‘Advice with Casework’ Level requirements. The evidence for certain aspects of the service will be different from evidence that is required for face-to-face services.
Examples of work under the scope of the telephone requirements are:
- National, regional or local telephone help lines
- Organisations who offer an additional telephone services to their face-to-face service
- Organisations who provide a service solely by the telephone
N.B. For the different types of AQS Accreditation please see the types of Accreditation page