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Scottish National Standards for Information and Advice Providers: a quality assurance framework 2009

Published: 8 Oct 2010
Part of:
Law and order
ISBN:
978 0 7559 8143 4

Scottish National Standards for Information and Advice Providers: a quality assurance framework 2009

199 page PDF

1.4MB

199 page PDF

1.4MB

Contents
Scottish National Standards for Information and Advice Providers: a quality assurance framework 2009
3. Money and Welfare Benefits Related Advice Competences - Foundation Knowledge Advice Competences - Foundation Knowledge

199 page PDF

1.4MB

3. Money and Welfare Benefits Related Advice Competences - Foundation Knowledge Advice Competences - Foundation Knowledge

3.1 Administrative Structure of the Benefits and Tax Credits Systems

Adviser Competence

Knows the administrative structures of the benefits and tax credits systems. This includes evidence of the following:

For Type I

  • Knows the relevant decision making responsibilities of DWP, HMRC, and LAs
  • Knows which agencies and offices administer each benefit and how to contact them

For Types II and III

As for Type I plus:

  • Knows how to contact customer services/complaints managers, Scottish Public Services Ombudsman services
  • Knows the structure of the appeal process and which services/offices administer these

Agency Competence

Enables advisers to know the structure of the benefits and tax credits systems. This includes evidence of the following:

For Types I, II and III

  • Holds local and national contact names, addresses, opening hours, etc
  • Provides or facilitates supervision training and updating on this topic which is appropriate to the Type of advice being given

3.2 National Insurance Scheme

Adviser Competence

Knows the rules about National Insurance payments and the effect on benefits

For Type I

  • Knows which benefits are based on National Insurance payments

For Types II and III

As For Type I plus:

  • Has the skills and knowledge to access information on this topic in order to be able to respond to clients
  • Knows the different classes of National Insurance contributions
  • Knows the effect on benefit entitlement of class of contribution
  • Identifies benefit years
  • Knows upper and lower earnings limits
  • Knows the first and second contributions conditions for benefits
  • Knows which groups qualify for National Insurance Credits and Home Responsibilities Protection
  • Advises about voluntary contributions

3.3 Claims and Backdating

Adviser Competence

Knows how to make effective claims, backdating requests and resolving issues which arise during the claims process. This includes evidence of the following:

For Type I

  • Knows which forms, tele-claims/e-claims and other claims triggers apply to all benefits and tax credits
  • Knows the National Insurance number requirement and resolves delays and cases where clients have insufficient evidence to obtain a National Insurance number
  • Knows the common forms of evidence and information required for claims, in particular: capital income, earnings, family/household banking details
  • Knows time limits for claiming all benefits and tax credits and evidence/information and exceptions
  • With access to advice, support and supervision, completes claim forms
  • Registers claims
  • Knows couple claim rules for Jobseeker's Allowance and common exceptions
  • Knows which benefits/tax credits can be backdated, how to do this and the criteria
  • Ascertains why a claim has been delayed or rejected on evidence/information grounds and, with advice, effectively challenges this
  • With advice, support and supervision knows the qualifying benefit rules for backdating benefit claims
  • Knows time limits for processing claims, interim payments and related matters

For Type II

As For Type I plus:

  • Has the skills and knowledge to access information on this topic in order to be able to respond to clients
  • Researches legislation and case law on claims, evidence and information and backdating
  • Drafts correspondence about backdating evidence and information, including challenges when matter is refused, borderline or contentious
  • Knows how to challenge undue delay in processing claims
  • Knows what legal remedies are available for resolving problems with claims, evidence and information and backdating
  • Intervenes effectively with creditors when debtors experience delays with benefit claims

For Type III

As for Types I and II plus:

  • Knows relevant aspects of law governing data protection, human rights and European Community, discrimination
  • Is familiar with legislation and case law on claims, evidence and information and backdating
  • Writes effective letters to MSPs, MPs, councillors, Scottish Public Services Ombudsman, etc
  • Makes informed and appropriate referrals to lawyers on possible judicial review matters
  • Knows the key links with other areas of law

Agency Competence

Enables advisers to deal with claims, information and evidence and backdating. This includes evidence of the following:

For Types I, II and III

  • Provides or facilitates supervision training and updating on this topic which is appropriate to the Type of advice being given
  • Has supervision and quality assurance arrangements which cover these topics
  • Has accessible information on local and national contacts for customer services/complaints manager, Ombudsman services

3.4 Decision-Making, Revisions, Supersessions and Appeals

Adviser Competence

Advises and advocates effectively on decision-making, revisions, supersessions and appeals. This includes evidence of the following:

For Type I

  • Knows the legal significance of decision-making on benefit/tax credit matters
  • Knows the time limits (and common exceptions) for explanations, revisions, supersessions and appeals to the First-tier Tribunal and Upper Tribunal. Knows how clients can appeal and seek a revision and/or supersession
  • With advice, submits basic letters of appeal, supersession and revision

For Type II

As For Type I plus:

  • Has the skills and knowledge to access information on this topic in order to be able to respond to clients
  • Knows the difference between supersession, revision and appeal
  • Drafts and submits appeal applications, including late applications
  • Use revision requests in order to generate a new right of appeal
  • Undertakes representation and advocacy by letter, telephone, or a meeting outside any litigation environment (see Generic Competence 1.8, Representation and Litigation)

For Type III

As for Types I and II plus:

  • Drafts submissions to the First-tier Tribunal and Upper Tribunal which contain both a statement/summary of key evidence and legal submissions citing legislation and case law which supports clients' cases
  • Undertakes representation before the First-tier Tribunal and Upper Tribunal (see Generic Competence 1.8, Representation and Litigation)
  • Identifies errors of law in decisions of the First-tier Tribunal in order to find grounds for appeal
  • Drafts requests for Leave to Appeal and Notices of Appeal to Upper Tribunal
  • Identifies outline points of law in decisions of Upper Tribunal which might be grounds for appeal to Court of Session. Refers such cases to a lawyer skilled in social security law
  • Deploys arguments based on Human Rights, European and discrimination law as they apply to social security/tax credits
  • Knows the key links with other areas of law

Agency Competence

Enables advisers to provide a high quality service by making effective use of decision making, revisions, supersessions and appeals. This includes evidence of the following:

For Types I, II and III

  • Promotes an organisational culture which supports continuous learning on this topic and its importance as an aid to effective welfare rights advice and advocacy
  • Provides or facilitates supervision training and updating on this topic which is appropriate to the Type of advice being given
  • Has standard letters
  • Advisers have access to in-house or external consultancy

3.5 Benefit and Tax Credit Overpayments

Adviser Competence

Advises and advocates effectively about benefit overpayments. This includes evidence of the following:

For Type I

  • Knows that overpayments can be challenged
  • After taking advice submits basic letters of appeal, supersession and revision

For Type II

As For Type I plus:

  • Has the skills and knowledge to access information on this topic in order to be able to respond to clients
  • Understands key legal concepts, researches relevant legislation and case law on the above, applies an interpretation which assists clients and advises on options
  • Drafts letters to DWP/ HMRC/ LAs which put the above points succinctly and persuasively
  • Seeks exercise of discretion to waive recovery using DWP/ HMRC guidance and administrative law principles
  • Understands possible defences to extra-statutory recovery, including an outline understanding of personal bar and prescription rules
  • Drafts letters of complaint to MSPs, MPs and Scottish Public Services Ombudsman

For Type III

As for Types I and II plus:

  • Drafts submissions to the First-tier Tribunal and Upper Tribunal which contain both a statement/summary of key evidence and legal submissions citing legislation and case law which supports clients' cases
  • Undertakes representation before the First-tier Tribunal and Upper Tribunal (see Generic Competence 1.8, Representation and Litigation)
  • Has a working knowledge of the legislation and case law about overpayments
  • Knows the key links with other areas of law
  • Identifies when Judicial Review may be an option in cases where discretion to waive has not been exercised and makes an informed referral to a lawyer who is skilled and knowledgeable in this area of law

Agency Competence

Enables advisers to advise competently about overpayments. This includes evidence of the following:

For Types I, II and III

  • Promotes an organisational culture which supports continuous learning on this topic and its importance as an aid to effective advice and advocacy
  • Provides or facilitates supervision training and updating on this topic which is appropriate to the Type of advice being given

3.6 Assessment, Initial Decision-Making and Holding Activity in Debt Cases

Adviser Competence

Carries out an assessment which includes an initial decision about any holding action which should be taken. This includes evidence of the following:

For Type I

  • Identifies debt problems
  • With advice, support and supervision, issues agency standard holding letters, letters seeking details of debts, replies to court documents or refers all debt issues to a specialist debt adviser or for emergency legal help in more serious situation ( e.g. a forthcoming eviction/ejection)
  • If not referred, demonstrates that sufficient creditor information is available for the debtor to be offered a full range of options. This may include any of the following which are readily available including:
  • Name of creditor
  • Name of debt collector
  • Account number(s)
  • Address and telephone numbers
  • Principal debt
  • Debt outstanding
  • Interest rate
  • Default interest
  • Amount of interest being applied
  • Term
  • Contractual payments
  • Any arrears
  • Any charges that may be incurred
  • Any payment protection
  • Stage of any recovery action by creditor or debt collection agency or where debt has been bought by a third party
  • Identifies priority debts
  • Identifies clients' wishes and assesses how realistic and/or safe these are. Provides feedback
  • Assesses whether any emergency action is required to protect debtors (for a Type I adviser, by consulting a Type II or III adviser)
  • Confirms advice with clients and makes appointments for further work, explaining the service's aims, boundaries, principles and policies and that the service is appropriate

For Types II and III

As For Type I plus:

  • Accurately identifies cases which may be suitable for referral to a Debt Arrangement Scheme Approved Adviser and use of a Debt Payment Plan or insolvency practitioner
  • Knows when to consult a lawyer to protect debtor's position

Agency Competence

Enables advisers to assess and take initial holding action competently. This includes evidence of the following:

For Types I, II and III

  • Promotes an organisational culture which supports continuous learning on this topic and its importance as an aid to debt advice
  • Provides or facilitates supervision training and updating on this topic which is appropriate to the Type of advice being given
  • Has standard letters for holding action and seeking further information, appropriate court forms, common creditor contact details, etc
  • Ensures that all advisers have access to internal or external second tier advice in emergency situations

Contact

Email: ceu@gov.scot Phone: 0300 244 4000 Post: Central Enquiry Unit
St Andrews House
Regent Road
Edinburgh
EH1 3DG