Peer review was introduced into the accreditation process following consultation with the advice sector.

Peer review of case-files takes place before the audit of agencies against the Organisational Standards in Section 1 of the Standards Framework. An agency must successfully complete peer review before they can proceed to audit and accreditation.

The SNSIAP require an agency to show that its advisers have the necessary skills and knowledge to deliver advice to the public. Standard 5.5 requires that all advice agencies must ensure that all their cases are dealt with by an adviser who is competent in a topic (housing, welfare benefits or money/debt).

To a certain extent, an agency can do this through written evidence, such as adviser training records, which can be assessed at the audit stage by the SNSIAP auditor. But the auditor is not in a position to check the accuracy of the advice that has been given to the public – so this is achieved by peer review.

The information in the peer review report and any action taken in response to recommendations in the reports form part of the evidence that an agency can include in its Self Assessment and Application Form, to show that its advisers are competent to give advice in housing, welfare benefits or money/debt and effective case-checking processes are in place, as required for Organisational Standard 4.6, 5.5 and 5.6.

After their peer review reports have been considered by the Moderation Committee, agencies will receive a decision letter from the Committee setting out:

  • The decision of the Moderation Committee
  • Any specific Committee comments
  • Next steps

Agencies must submit their Moderation Committee decision letter with their application for accreditation.

  • Who does the peer review?
  • How is peer review carried out?
  • What happens next?
  • Will the auditors see a copy of the agency’s peer review report?
  • What happens if your agency applies for peer review in multiple topics and is found a mix of compliant and non-compliant by the Moderation Committee?
  • Are you ready for peer review?