Before your agency can apply for accreditation, you must first identify what type(s) of advice your agency provides, as defined in the Scottish National Standards for Information and Advice Providers (SNSIAP): A Quality Assurance Framework (2009).

There are three types of advice defined in the Standards Framework:

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.

Can I apply for Type III accreditation if my agency hasn't had the opportunity to carry out representation at a court or tribunal?

Yes. If an organisation includes in their remit that they can do Type III advice work, the auditor will look for evidence in their application for accreditation that all the necessary systems are in place to indicate that the advice service could provide a Type III service to an acceptable standard.