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Content of the AQS

There are three essential elements to the Advice Quality Standard

1. The Quality Frameworks Requirements

This is the written document which specifies the evidence that is required to show that as an organisation, your service meets a set of defined requirements to deliver quality advice. It includes the overall specification, the evidence requirement and some guidance.

2. The Assessment

At the point of first application and then every two years thereafter, you will have a on site visit from one of our assessor team. Knowledgeable on the workings of the AQS and the details of the framework requirements, the assessor will ask to see your evidence of how you meet the requirements. They will also talk to the advice staff group and will review some recent client files. You will then be provided with a written report and where your service does not yet meet the requirement, you will be asked to undertake some corrective actions. The AQS will be recommended by the assessor when they are satisfied all the requirements are fully met.

3. Continuous Improvement

For the two years between assessment visits, you will be expected to regularly review your advice service and undertake any actions in order to keep up to date and to enhance the quality of advice given. The assessor will ask for evidence that you have done this on their return visit and it is much simpler if continuous improvement is built into your services regular reporting and monitoring arrangements.

Structure of the Advice Quality Standard

The AQS covers seven quality framework areas, labelled A-G. Each quality area is colour coded for ease of use and contains a definition of the quality area and the purpose of the area in driving quality advice services. Within the area, there are a list of requirements which are denoted by a number (ie E3) with most areas having about 3 requirements, D (services staff/trustees skills and knowledge) is the exception with 5. Each requirement describes the evidence needed to meet the requirement, again denoted by a number. The highest number of evidence specification on any requirement is 10 (ie B1.10).

These are the quality framework areas:

A Access to service

The aim of the Advice Quality Standard is to improve access to legal services and to base the delivery of services on local needs and priorities. Members of the Advice Quality Standard should be aware of the environment in which they operate and develop their services to meet the needs of their community.

B Seamless service

Where a member of the Advice Quality Standard cannot provide the particular service needed by the client, they must inform the client and direct them to an alternative service provider, where available.

C Running the organisation

Members of the Advice Quality Standard must have structures and procedures that ensure effective management of the organisation and its resources.

D People management

Members of the Advice Quality Standard must ensure that staff possess or acquire the skills and knowledge required for meeting the clients’ needs.

E Running the service

Members of the Advice Quality Standard must have processes and procedures that ensure an effective and efficient service to their clients.

F Meeting clients’ needs

Clients using a Advice Quality Standard provider are entitled to receive advice and information relevant to their needs.

G Commitment to quality

All members of the Advice Quality Standard are committed to improving the quality of their service. To see the full evidence requirements in the AQS, you must hold a password for the AQS holders area of this website. Go to this page to find out how to get a password.

Level of Advice

Your service can apply for the AQS at different levels of advice-giving which most represents the service you offer to clients:

  • Information only service;
  • Advice service;
  • Casework service (and further categorisation according to law subject area and/or client group).

You will be offered guidance on which level best matches your service when you apply for the AQS.

Telephone Advice

If your service only offers advice by telephone, you will be able to apply for the AQS for telephone services. This is an additional set of requirements which add to or amend the main AQS requirements to take account of the difference between giving advice on the telephone and in person. You can find out if these apply to your service by contacting Recognising Excellence. If you offer advice via Skype, email etc, you can also find out from us if the telephone requirements may apply to your service.