Before you apply for peer review, it is essential you check that your agency is ready for the process. An agency applying for peer review and subsequently audit must be able to answer ‘yes’ to the following questions:
1. Have you sought approval from within your organisation to apply for accreditation and agreed who will sign key documents?
Peer review and audit requires your agency to dedicate resource to the accreditation process that you would otherwise use for other work. It’s therefore important that your advice team(s) have management support for their application. To ensure the process runs smoothly, we will also require the names and contact details of two members of staff.
2. Do you regularly check your advisers’ case files?
Case-checking and supervising your advice workers regularly is a fundamental part of providing good quality advice and it’s essential you have robust, reliable case-checking and supervision processes in place. If you do not have these processes in place, there is a risk that any wrong advice will not be picked up by your agency. This may result in your case-files being found non-compliant at peer review.
When you apply for audit, the auditor will also expect to see evidence of case-checking and supervision processes in your audit evidence, as these are required by Organisational Standards 4.6, 5.5 and 5.6. as proof that you are providing a good service to your clients.
3. Do you understand the data protection requirements of the peer review and accreditation process?
Information about the data protection requirements of peer review and accreditation, including information about the secure file sharing platform we use can be found here.
4. Do you have processes in place that are GDPR compliant and which allow us to share information with a third party for quality assurance purposes (e.g. consent)?
Please see our guidance note for information on consent and other legal permissions for file-sharing.
5. Are you clear about your agency’s remit?
The first step in the accreditation process is the completion of a self assessment of your advice service using the Self Assessment and Application form and SNSIAP Self-Assessment Guidance. This includes the identification of the remit of your agency.
By remit, we mean the advice that you provide in housing and/or welfare benefits and/or money and debt. If you provide advice in any other areas, e.g. employment or family law, these are not covered by the SNSIAP and can’t be accredited.
The remit of your advice is defined in the SNSIAP by the Type and Topic (e.g. Type II Housing) and sub-topic(s) (e.g. eviction) as set out in the competences section of the Standards Framework (Section 2). It also includes the background, context and overall purpose of your advice service.
Understanding your agency’s remit is essential as it will determine which accreditation path you take and you will also be required to accurately describe your remit at the start of the process.
For example, if all the advice provided by your agency is at Type I (Information and Signposting) you will not be required to apply for peer review of your case-files. Your accreditation path will be to apply directly for audit and accreditation. If any of your advice is delivered at Type II (Casework) or Type III (Advocacy and Representation) your accreditation path will be the peer review of your case-files in those topics, followed by an audit.
Accreditation is awarded on the basis of compliance with the Standards and in relation to the remit of your advice service.
The Standards and the competences are owned by Scottish Government and can be found here.
6. Have you carried out a SNSIAP self assessment?
You will be able to identify which accreditation path your agency should take once you have identified your remit and completed your self assessment. Whichever path you take, your first step must be to complete the Self Assessment and Application Form as this will tell you if your agency is ready to apply for accreditation and help you identify gaps or issues that should be resolved before you apply.
7. How will your peer review be carried out?
If you have AdvicePro or you are a Citizens Advice Bureau, your peer review will be carried out via direct access to your case-files. All other agencies’ peer reviews will be required to scan and upload the selected case-files onto the secure file sharing platform used by SLAB.
If you have another case management system which can allow direct access to your case-files please let us know.
Further information about accessing case-files can be found here.
If you are confident that you can answer yes to all seven questions you are ready for peer review.
If you do not have a date for peer review, contact SLAB at SNSIAP@slab.org.uk.
If you have a date for peer review, SLAB will send you a timetable and a Peer Review Questionnaire before your review is due to start. You will also be invited to a seminar covering the practicalities of the peer review and audit process.