Raising standards

We believe that it is important for people who seek debt advice to have the assurance that both the organisation they access, and the adviser that they engage with, are operating to the highest standards.

Our current focus is to work with partners to make debt advice easier and quicker to access, and to improve standards and quality across the sector. Key areas of our work are detailed below.

Peer review scheme

Our peer review scheme provides a mechanism for specialist debt advisers to assess the quality of advice by their peers and has been developed with input from a range of organisations across the debt sector.

Under the scheme, peer reviewers will review client files to assess the quality of advice given. The process will identify areas where those organisations being reviewed, and advisers within them, can develop and will support them in exploring actions required to make changes. The scheme will also highlight areas of good practice and share them across the sector.

The scheme will initially be rolled out to the Money Advice Service funded organisations in England and Wales, with future expansion to Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Read our Peer Review Scheme in full (PDF 282 KB)

Read our Peer Review Scheme: Information for Participating Organisations in full (PDF 471 KB)

Debt Advice Quality Framework

Our quality framework comprises of two interlinked and essential parts – the ‘organisational’ quality framework and the ‘individual’ quality framework, which together, form our approach to ensuring the high quality of debt advice services in both the free-to-client and fee-charging sectors.

The framework provides a single, transparent and consistent mechanism which enables quality standards, membership codes, training and qualifications currently used in the debt advice sector to be assessed against the requirements of the framework and achieve accreditation from the Money Advice Service. This will ensure that both an organisation and its individual advisers are delivering consistent and high quality debt advice.

Read our Debt Advice Quality Framework in full (PDF 394 KB)

Accreditation of Standards and Membership Codes

Quality standards and membership codes used in the debt advice sector can be submitted for accreditation to an independent external organisation who will undertake an assessment against our quality framework. Those that evidence successfully that they fully meet all of the criteria will achieve accreditation. The main quality areas that standards and membership codes are required to evidence are:

  • Ensuring client needs are understood and met
  • Having strong governance arrangements in place
  • Reviewing, learning and adapting where required, the services that they provide to clients

We began to accredit standards and membership codes in January 2014. To date, the following quality standards and membership codes were awarded full three year accreditation:

  • Advice NI Money and Debt Advice Quality Assurance Standards
  • Advice Quality Standard (Advice Services Alliance)
  • National Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux Membership Scheme
  • Northern Ireland Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux Membership Scheme
  • Scottish Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux Membership Scheme
  • The matrix Standard (incorporating the Money Advice Service Organisation Framework)
  • Lexcel England and Wales v6 incorporating the Money Advice Service Quality Framework (MAS QF)
  • Aperture Ten Keys Standard for Quality and Production

Conditional accreditation has been awarded to:

  • Scottish National Standards

A list of free-to-client and fee-charging debt advice organisations holding a Money Advice Service accredited standard or membership code can be found here.

Connecting people with high quality debt advice

In June 2014, we launched a ‘ Debt advice locator tool’. This tool helps people seek free debt advice by enabling them to search for local or national services. This unique tool only features free debt advice organisations holding a Money Advice Service accredited quality standard or membership code, so people can be reassured the advice they are receiving is of a high and consistent standard.

Accreditation of Training and Qualification

Training and qualifications used in the debt advice sector can be submitted for accreditation to an independent external organisation for assessment against our quality framework. Those that successfully evidence that they fully meet the criteria set out in the framework, will achieve accreditation.

The quality framework was developed in collaboration with a Working Group of debt advice stakeholders from across the UK. The framework sets out the knowledge and skills that debt advisers are required to have obtained and evidenced through their learning, across the spectrum of debt advice activities that they undertake in their work.

The framework provides debt advisers with Money Advice Service accredited pathways through which they can identify how to acquire the agreed core learning for the types of debt related activity they do through training, qualifications, or both. Aside from these accredited learning pathways, advisers can continue to access the wide range of technical quality training available to further build on their expertise as part of their continuous professional development.

To date, the following courses and qualifications have been accredited and details of those learning pathways are detailed here.

For additional information read the accompanying documents to the individual quality framework (PDF 185 KB)