Scottish National Standards for Information and Advice Providers

Scottish National Standards for Information and Advice Providers

  • A Quality Assurance Framework (2009) is the accepted quality framework for agencies providing advice on housing, money, debt and welfare benefits issues. The Scottish National Standards for Information and Advice Providers’ (SNSIAP) framework is owned by the Scottish Government.
  • The SNSIAP are designed to help not-for-profit organisations providing housing, welfare benefits and money/debt advice in Scotland to assess and improve the quality of their advice services.
  • Their primary purpose is to encourage organisations to adopt a culture of continuous improvement for their advice work.
  • Accreditation also supports organisations to demonstrate to the public and funders that their advice service is well managed and provides good quality advice.

Where can you find the Standards?

  • You can find the Standards Framework on the Scottish Government’s website.
  • Before reading the Standards Framework please note the following:
      • Section 1 of the Standards Framework covers the six Organisational Standards – these remain current and will be used to measure the performance of agencies at audit.
      • Section 2 of the Standards Framework covers the competences that are the basis on which an agency’s Type II/ Type III casework is peer reviewed.  The competences have been updated to ensure they reflect current legislation.
        Please note: While the SNSIAP Framework has not changed, the Scottish Government has updated the competencies for advisers (section 2) to ensure they reflect current legislation.
      • Section 3 of the Framework is a Good Practice Guide. It was accurate at time of publication in 2009 but you should now refer to the SNSIAP Self-Assessment Guidance to help you to prepare for audit and peer review.
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Types of information and advice under the SNSIAP

Type 1 – Active information, signposting and explanation
  • This work refers to activities such as providing information either orally or in writing, sign-posting or referring the user to other available resources or services.
  • It also includes the explanation of technical terms or clarifying an official document, such as a tenancy agreement or a possession order.
  • We make a distinction between the passive provision of information through the availability of leaflets, for example in public places such as libraries, and the active provision of information by providing assistance to the individual seeking help.
  • These Standards are aimed at ‘active’ providers.
  • Type I accreditation is a one-stage process made up of an audit against the Organisational Standards.
Type 2 – Casework

This includes:

  • A diagnostic interview where the problem and all relevant issues are identified
  • Making a judgement as to whether the individual has a case that can be pursued.

Once it has been established that the individual has a case that can be pursued, activities that your agency may undertake include:

  • Setting out an individual’s options or courses of action
  • Encouraging the user to take action on their own behalf
  • Providing practical aid with letters or forms
  • Negotiating with third parties on the user’s behalf
  • Introducing the enquirer by referral to another source of help
  • Support to users in making their own case.

Type II/III accreditation is a two-stage process which is made up of the peer review of your case files, followed by an audit against the Organisational Standards. You cannot apply for audit until you have successfully completed peer review.

Citizens Advice Bureaux follow the same accreditation process as other advice agencies offering Type II/Type III advice. The only difference is the number of Organisational Standards CABx are required to self assess against.

Type 3 – Advocacy, representation and mediation at a tribunal or court action level

This work includes a range of further actions arising from the casework defined in Type II. This may have been undertaken by the adviser preparing the tertiary work or may have come to the adviser by referral from another organisation or adviser.

The principal activities may include:

  •  Advocacy and Representation – where the adviser may prepare a case for the user and represent or speak on their behalf at a tribunal or court
  •  Mediation – where the adviser may act on behalf of the user by seeking to mediate between the user and a third party.

Type III work includes some activities that can only be undertaken by lawyers.

The accreditation process for agencies offering Type II advice and those offering Type II and Type III advice is the same.

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Thinking about accreditation?

Step 1 – Case checking

  • Do you regularly check the quality of your advisers’ work? If you do, move to Step 2.
  • If you do not, please view the ‘Are you ready for Peer Review?’ guidance for more information on the importance of case checking to peer review and accreditation.
Step 2 – self-assessment

Step 3 – Sharing client data and client consent

  • To collect, process, store or share personal information for the purpose of applying for SNSIAP accreditation, you must comply with the requirements of the General Data Protection Regulations 2016 (GDPR).
  • Most (but not all) agencies will be required to obtain consent from clients that their case files can be shared with third parties for the purposes of quality assurance. We can only peer review cases from these agencies that have this specific client consent. Other agencies may be able to rely on a different legal basis under GDPR for sharing their client case files and further information about this is available on the ICO website.
  • You can only share your client case files with SLAB and peer reviewers if you take steps to comply with the requirements of the GDPR. Most agencies will do this by asking for their clients’ consent. You must check that you are asking your clients for the correct type of consent to allow you to share their data with us and the peer reviewers. Go to the Sharing client data and client consent and data protection sections if you need more information about how they relate to this peer review process.
  • When you apply for peer review you will need to send us a list of all your housing and/or welfare benefits and/or money/debt cases from the past 12 months. We will then select cases from that list for peer review. Your list must only include cases that have third party consent (or can be shared for other reasons set out by the GDPR) and meet the definitions of Type II or Type III casework.


Scottish National Standards for Information and Advice Providers: a quality assurance framework
  • Scottish National Standards for Information and Advice Providers: a quality assurance framework 2009.
  • This publication  is in three sections:Section 1 contains the National Standards; Section 2 contains the Competences for Advisers and agencies in which they work; Section 3 contains the Good Practice Guidance. 
Scottish National Standards for Information and Advice Providers: competences for advisers

Accreditation begins with self assessment.

You should read the Self Assessment Guidance,view the presentation and organisational guidance slides and use these to complete theSelf Assessment and Application Form.

You can also find out more about self assessment here.

Scottish Legal Aid Board

Scottish National Standards for Information and Advice Providers
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