N.I. Advice and Information Strategy by mpm74462

VIEWS: 6 PAGES: 93

									            July 2005 Draft




   N.I. Advice and
Information Strategy



  Voluntary and Community Unit

Department for Social Development


           4 July 2005
1 Background and Context              ...........................2
1.1   Introduction                                               2
1.2   Policy Context                                             3
1.3   Overview of the Advice Sector                             13
1.4   Defining Advice and Information                           17
1.5   Recent Changes in the Advice Sector/Context               22
2 The Review           . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
2.1   The Review Methodology                                                                                   24
2.2   Consultation Feedback                                                                                    26
2.3   The Current Position                                                                                     33
2.4   Summary and Conclusions                                                                                  37
2.5   Rationale for the Strategy                                                                               39
3 The Core Strategy            . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45
3.1   Overall Aim and Purpose of Strategy                                                            45
3.2   Principles and Values                                                                          45
3.3   Scope of the Strategy                                                                          46
3.4   Vision for Advice Work                                                                         49
3.5   Delivering the Vision (The Objectives)                                                         50
3.6   Structures                                                                                     54
3.7   Monitoring and Review Plan                                                                     56
4 Appendices         . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57
4.1 Strategy Timeline                                                                                        57
4.2 A Primary Generalist Hub                                                                                 58
4.3 A.S.A.                                                                                                   61
4.4 Quality Standards                                                                                        65
4.5 Satellites, Outreach and E Access                                                                        67
4.6 Stakeholders                                                                                             69
4.7 Involvement of others and interfaces                                                                     71
4.8 Resource Plan                                                                                            73
4.9 Source Materials                                                                                         79
4.10 Background Statistics                                                                                   81
4.11 Establishment of Hub and Satellites                                                                     82
4.12 Benefits to Advice Users                                                                                84
4.13 Consultation List                                                                                       86
                                  July 2005 Draft                                   2




1         Background and Context

1.1       Introduction


1.1.1     The Voluntary and Community Unit (V.C.U.), within the
          Department for Social Development (D.S.D.), has overall policy
          responsibility for the advice services sector in N.I. Following
          approaches from the advice services sector, the Voluntary and
          Community Unit undertook to produce a long term Advice and
          Information Strategy for N.I. In November 2003 Williamson
          Consulting was commissioned to review the current position
          and to work with key parties to develop the strategy.
          Williamson Consulting worked with a Steering Group made up
          of representatives from the Voluntary and Community Unit and
          representatives from the three organisations which make up
          the Advice Services Alliance, the Law Centre N.I., Citizens’
          Advice, formerly (the Northern Ireland Association of Citizens
          Advice Bureaux - N.I.A.C.A.B.) and Advice N.I. (formerly the
          Association of Independent Advice Centres).


1.1.2     A range of factors lead to the need for a long term Advice and
          Information Strategy. These included:

      {   The need to ensure strategic use of limited resources, especially given
          that many of the funding sources which supported the development of
          advice work have since ended or are about to end.

      {   There is no clear advice sector infrastructure/strategy. Main
          stakeholders within the sector perceived there to be a strategic policy
          vacuum in terms of how the advice sector is supported, structured
          and guided:

                at Strategic/Government level

                at Funder level

                at support structure level

                at provider level



                                  Williamson Consulting
                               July 2005 Draft                                   3




      {   There is a perceived lack of co-ordination between key stakeholders
          which leads to inconsistent funding decisions which do not always
          reflect need and overlap and gaps

      {   There are a number of policy/legal developments which have
          impacted, or are likely to impact, on the work of the advice sector.
          These include Welfare Reform, the establishment of the N.I. Legal
          Services Commission, legal changes relating to immigration, the
          Review of Public Administration, development of the social
          economy, formal targets for E Government, the review on resourcing
          the Voluntary and Community sector, Neighbourhood Renewal,
          Partners for Change, etc.

      {   There are concerns about the quality and consistency of advice work
          undertaken by a wide range of diverse providers

      {   There is a lack of clarity around what constitutes advice provision,
          information provision and advocacy, with no clear definitions of
          these areas.

      {   There are inconsistencies with regard to geographical provision and
          gaps and overlaps in terms of types of provision.


1.2       Policy Context


1.2.1     The Belfast Agreement committed the Executive to agree each
          year a “Programme for Government” incorporating an agreed
          Budget.     The Priorities and Budget 2004–06 for the
          Programme for Government summarises the Government’s
          main policies and priorities for this period. The main priorities
          include:

      {   “tackling sectarianism, community division and disadvantage”.
          Within this, the Government has indicated that it is committed to
          working in partnership with the voluntary and community sector,
          which plays a vital role in helping to promote social inclusion and
          tackling disadvantage and community division. It will therefore
          support and facilitate better partnership working with the sector.
          This is outlined in the “Task-force Report on Resourcing the
          Voluntary and Community Sector” and the development of “Partners
          for Change: Government’s strategy for support of the voluntary and
          community sector”. The Government is also pursuing Welfare
          Reform - “work for those who can and support for those who
                              Williamson Consulting
                             July 2005 Draft                                  4




        cannot”. This has resulted in changes in how benefit entitlements
        and pensions are calculated and administered.

    {   “equality, rights and victims”. Work continues to ensure that
        equality considerations are fully mainstreamed into policy
        development and that there is effective operation of the statutory
        duties under Section 75 of the N.I. Act 1998.

        Government is also keen to ensure that new technologies are
        harnessed in service delivery. This includes ensuring that
        Government can deliver services through a range of channels
        include digital television, kiosks, one stop shops, etc.


1.2.2   The Department for Social Development’s mission is “together,
        tackling disadvantage, building communities”. One of its three
        key strategic objectives is “tackling disadvantage amongst
        individuals, communities and neighbourhoods, with particular
        emphasis on greatest need and encouraging, developing and
        supporting community development”. Actions associated with
        this strategic objective include:

    {   to add value to Government’s relationship with the voluntary and
        community sector in N.I. through implementation of a strategic,
        co-ordinated and cross-Departmental approach. The Partners for
        Change document builds on this theme. The Partners for Change
        strategy is intended to make a meaningful contribution to the
        Programme for Government by promoting and supporting
        relationships between Government and the voluntary and community
        sector.    Although sectoral strategies have been produced by
        individual departments, each is underpinned by four common aims.
        These include; Shaping Policy Development; Building Communities;
        Promoting Active Citizenship and Tackling Disadvantage.

    {   to contribute to community development by targeting resources to
        improve community services and infrastructure and take action to
        sustain the voluntary and community sector. Capacity building and
        supporting the voluntary and community sector includes building the
        capacity of staff in both Government and the community sector to
        work together by developing a better understanding of each other’s
        work and to improve the ability of voluntary and community
        organisations to achieve positive and sustainable outcomes.




                            Williamson Consulting
                             July 2005 Draft                                   5




1.2.3   The implementation of a Neighbourhood Renewal Strategy is
        one of the objectives of the Programme for Government, as
        outlined in the Budget and Priorities for 2004-2006. The
        Strategy was developed following a period of consultation,
        research and review and is one of several documents which
        will map out the approach to urban regeneration and
        neighbourhood renewal.         It provides a means to allow
        departments to work together to harness their existing
        initiatives and programme spend in the most disadvantaged
        areas and to work together on new cross cutting initiatives.
        The strategy envisages a partnership approach, working with
        all stakeholders in an integrated way in the pursuit of its key
        goals and strategic objectives. Its main goal is to close the gap
        between the quality of life for people in the most deprived
        neighbourhoods and the quality of life for the rest of society. It
        will do this by ensuring that those in the most deprived areas
        have access to services/opportunities to improve quality of life
        and prospects, and, by improving the environment and image
        of the most deprived neighbourhoods so that they become
        more attractive places to live and invest in.           Targeted
        neighbourhoods lie within the top 10% of disadvantaged wards
        (Noble) together with the worst 10% of Enumeration Districts
        (not already within the most 10% most deprived wards). There
        are four strategic objectives:

    {   community renewal - to develop confident communities that are able
        and committed to improving the quality of life in the most deprived
        neighbourhoods. Within this objective typical activities include:

        •   developing and strengthening community infrastructure to
            improve the capacity of communities
        •   supporting Government Departments and Agencies in their
            efforts to enhance the delivery of public services by making
            greater use of voluntary and community organisations in the
            delivery of public services.

    {   economic renewal - to develop economic activity in the most
        deprived neighbourhoods and connect them to wider urban economy.
        Typical activities include:

        •   ensuring that people on benefits are encouraged and supported to
            take up their full entitlement and that the process of seeking
            advice on a wide range of benefit and other issues is made more
            accessible.


                             Williamson Consulting
                              July 2005 Draft                                    6




    {   social renewal - to improve social conditions for the people who live
        in the most deprived neighbourhoods, through better co-ordinated
        public services and the creation of safer environments

    {   physical renewal - to help create attractive, sustainable environments
        in the most deprived neighbourhoods.

        The key elements of the strategy are: to target the most acute
        deprivation; to promote partnership; to commit for the long
        term; to adopt an integrated approach; to improve public
        services; to focus on results and to respond to local
        circumstances. The strategy also outlines that D.S.D. will
        focus on supporting the implementation of strategic
        programmes in response to the needs of neighbourhoods,
        rather than on funding individual projects. It will strive to lever
        in additional resources from the public, private and community
        sectors and will be a proactive agent of change in the most
        deprived neighbourhoods. D.S.D. will take responsibility for
        driving Neighbourhood Renewal forward.


1.2.4   At central government level, the Voluntary and Community Unit
        within D.S.D. has responsibility for funding and supporting
        regional advice services. V.C.U. provides funding to support
        advice sector umbrella organisations such as the Law Centre
        N.I., Advice N.I. (formerly the Association of Independent
        Advice Centres) and Citizens’ Advice. The work of these
        organisations is described in more detail in later sections.

        Until 1998 the then Voluntary Activity Unit (now V.C.U.) had
        ring fenced money for local advice services provision. This was
        then distributed to each local Council on a deprivation
        weighted, per capita, basis. Each Council contributed to this
        amount at a ratio of at least 3:2 from rate support grants. The
        total amount was then distributed to organisations which
        provided advice services at a local Council level.

        Following a V.A.U. commissioned review of Council support to
        the community sector, it was recommended that each Council
        develop a three year Community Support Plan outlining needs
        at local level and Councils’ plans for meeting these needs.
        Such support plans would include advice provision along with
        other community sector provision. Each Council’s Community
        Support Plan would be approved by V.C.U. and funding for
        community support allocated accordingly. Councils would be
                             Williamson Consulting
                              July 2005 Draft                                    7




        expected to contribute to this through rate support grant.
        Councils would then allocate funding to advice service
        providers from their Community Support Budget. Funding is
        no longer officially ring fenced for advice provision.


1.2.5   Most Councils have continued to support advice services as in
        previous years, however, the per capita amounts allocated to
        advice services varies significantly across Council areas. It is
        acknowledged that Councils make an invaluable contribution to
        the advice sector and in many cases contribute more
        financially to advice than D.S.D.         However there is an
        inconsistent approach to the criteria used by each Council for
        allocating funding to advice services and consequently the
        level of advice provision varies, irrespective of the level of
        need. Councils have indicated that they would welcome
        guidance from Central Government on how best to support the
        advice sector at local level. It is also acknowledged that some
        Councils have adopted a Service Level Agreement approach
        which has often been accompanied by increases in funding.


1.2.6   D.S.D. (through V.C.U.) and Councils are the main, but not the
        only, funders and supporters of advice services.        Other
        Government departments, agencies, branches and Non
        Departmental Public Bodies directly provide information (and
        sometimes advice) to the public relating to their remit, or
        provide specific funding to organisations to do so on their
        behalf. The main examples include:

    {   The Social Security Agency - The S.S.A. provides advice and
        information services directly to its customers.         However, it
        acknowledges and values the role played by the advice sector in
        accessing hard to reach groups and providing information and advice
        to these groups, and recognises the importance of having an
        independent advocate for customers, able to question policy decisions
        relating to the work of the Agency. As a result, certain actions have
        been taken to improve working relationships between the S.S.A. and
        the sector:

        •   Draft protocols between the A.S.A. and the S.S.A. have been
            established, outlining main roles and responsibilities relating to
            the work of the S.S.A. and the advice sector and how each can
            best work together.


                             Williamson Consulting
                      July 2005 Draft                                    8




•   Separate policy and operational forums have been established
    where operational staff in the advice sector and within the S.S.A.
    meet regularly to discuss issues which affect customers and
    which affect the workings of the S.S.A. and advice sector.
•   It has been acknowledged that changes in S.S.A. related policies,
    and the Government requirement for means testing at the point of
    access, impact on the advice and information sector. The
    introduction of Welfare Reform has resulted in changes to benefit
    entitlement and calculations. In recognition of the impact this is
    likely to have on the advice and information sector, the S.S.A.
    has provided funding to the Advice Services Alliance (which is
    made up of representatives from Advice N.I., Citizens‘ Advice
    and the Law Centre), to deliver a 2 year pilot Welfare Reform
    project. The aim of the project is to resource the sector to cope
    with these changes in line with Government’s commitments in
    the Voluntary Sector Compact. The project also aims to raise
    awareness of the impacts of these changes on S.S.A. customers
    (especially those who are particularly hard to reach) and to
    increase the number of claims from those who are entitled. The
    A.S.A. members have used this money strategically to establish
    appropriate systems and procedures for undertaking and
    recording advice work, to run training for advice and information
    workers on the impacts of Welfare Reform, and to employ
    additional advice and information workers to deal with enquiries
    relating to the benefits affected by Welfare Reform. The work
    has been planned to ensure that all geographical areas and issue
    based groups are targeted. The Welfare Reform funding is also
    being used to supply child support advice and advocacy support
    before Social Security Appeal Tribunals and to the Social
    Security Commissioner. The pilot project is being evaluated. An
    interim evaluation report has indicated that the changes to the
    benefits system, as a result of Welfare Reform, have had a major
    impact on the work of the advice sector especially in terms of the
    complexity of enquiries being dealt with. To date the Welfare
    Reform project has been successful in ensuring that advice staff
    are adequately trained, in providing additional capacity to enable
    the sector to better deal with demand, and to further develop
    processes which allow for work on the ground to feed through to
    policy. However, there are still many issues which need to be
    resolved in relation to the systems which have been established
    to deal with some benefits (particularly Tax Credits which itself
    has proven to be an issue of concern throughout the U.K.). The
    S.S.A. have agreed to extend the project until the end of March
    2006.


                     Williamson Consulting
                          July 2005 Draft                                      9




    •   The S.S.A. has indicated that it is not in a position to provide
        baseline funding to the voluntary advice sector although it is
        exploring the possibility of contracting work to the sector to
        enable it to deliver services which contribute to the achievement
        of specific Agency objectives.

{   Child Support Agency - The C.S.A. provides advice and
    information on child support issues directly. It also works with
    relevant regional voluntary organisations such as Gingerbread N.I. to
    raise awareness and to access target groups.

{   D.S.D. Housing Division and N.I.H.E. - N.I.H.E. provides
    information and advice services directly to its customers and takes
    steps to ensure that good relationships are developed and maintained
    within the community. It also undertakes work to empower the
    community sector. N.I.H.E. acknowledges the role played by the
    advice sector in accessing those who need support in relation to
    housing queries and in challenging decisions relating to policy issues.
    Through the Housing Division within D.S.D., funding is made
    available to the Housing Rights Service which deals with complex
    housing issues arising from customer enquiries. (D.S.D. is not the
    sole funder of Housing Rights). In recognition of the fact that some
    of the enquiries dealt with by Housing Rights could be dealt with by
    local advice providers (leaving Housing Rights to deal with the most
    complex), funding has been obtained from a range of sources,
    including N.I.H.E., European Funding and the Community Fund, for
    a Community Housing Advisory Project (C.H.A.P.). Housing Rights,
    Citizens‘ Advice and Advice N.I. are working together to develop the
    capacity of advisors at local level to deal with housing enquiries up to
    a certain level, at which point they are referred to Housing Rights.
    The project has involved strategic use of resources to provide training
    and support to local advice staff to ensure an appropriate
    geographical spread and is perhaps an exemplar for how other
    regional voluntary bodies could work with the advice sector.

{   Health and Social Services Trusts - Most local H.S.S.T.s directly
    provide information to their users and the community in general.
    Some fund local organisations to provide information and advice on
    particular issues and/or for particular groups within society (e.g.
    people with disabilities, older people, people with particular health
    problems, etc.). This has resulted in regional voluntary organisations
    being funded to provide information and advice at local H.S.S.T.
    level. In some cases local voluntary and community groups, which
    focus on specific issues or groups are being funded to provide
    information and advice at a local council level. This support is

                          Williamson Consulting
                           July 2005 Draft                                       10




    provided very much on a Trust by Trust basis and depends very much
    on the resources each Trust has available. Trusts tend to allocate
    funding directly to those organisations they fund, however, in some
    cases, efforts have been made to co-operate with the Councils within
    the Trust’s geographical remit to co-ordinate funding for such work
    in line with Council’s funding of advice and information services.
    This approach has often lead to inequitable provision of specialised
    advice provision to specific interest groups (e.g. the employment of a
    disability advice worker in one Council area and not another). In
    some cases, H.S.S.T.s have established service level agreements with
    advice providers in order to target specific interest groups (e.g.
    people with disabilities). Some of these have been mainstreamed.

{   Department of Enterprise Trade and Investment - D.E.T.I. has
    responsibility for consumer issues (within their Trading Standards
    Branch). The N.I. Executive made recommendations for the
    development of a Consumer Strategy for N.I. and it was suggested
    that this should include provision of consumer and money advice.
    D.E.T.I. undertook a review of consumer and money advice needs
    and the following activities resulted:

    •   The establishment of Consumerline. This is a statutory service
        recently set up to deal with a wide range of consumer issues,
        mainly through telephone enquiries. Being telephone based, it is
        a N.I. wide service and is based within Trading Standards Branch
        in D.E.T.I. It is perceived that basing the service within the
        branch makes a clear link between consumer concerns and the
        ability to affect consumer related policies. However, it is
        acknowledged that although Consumerline can be accessed by
        anyone in N.I. (via phone, Internet, etc.), it will not necessarily
        meet all users’ requirements (i.e., there is still be a need for users
        to have access to independent advocacy and representation,
        which a Government department cannot supply, and access to
        face to face help with complex consumer issues. Some people
        may also feel more comfortable using local advice centres such
        as Belfast Consumer Advice Centre, or local advice centres in
        other parts of N.I.). Therefore, although D.E.T.I. is providing a
        service to deal with consumer issues, there is still a need for local
        advice organisations to continue to deliver consumer advice.
        D.E.T.I. must develop working relationships and referral
        mechanisms between the sector and Consumerline which can
        ensure that it does not duplicate existing publicly funded
        provision. While Consumerline is fully funded by D.E.T.I., the
        department currently provides no funding directly to the advice
        sector to support advice or advocacy work on consumer/money
        issues.
                          Williamson Consulting
                              July 2005 Draft                                      11




        •   The review of money advice. D.E.T.I. commissioned its review
            intending to establish the extent of the need for money advice
            and to identify how best this need could be met. It has since been
            recommended that the provision of money advice be considered
            within this D.S.D. 10 year Advice and Information Strategy for
            N.I. The review did highlight that provision of money advice in
            N.I. falls far short of the need and that the level of provision in
            N.I. was currently inconsistent in relation to geographical
            coverage, quality, and complexity. There are currently no
            mechanisms for regulating provision. The Consumer Affairs
            Branch in D.E.T.I. has been working with V.C.U. and the Advice
            Services Alliance to put in place a pilot project for the short-term
            delivery of money advice in 2004/05 and 2005/06. This project
            is delivered through Citizens Advice and Advice N.I. and will
            begin to process of developing an integrated, money advice
            service until longer-term strategic decisions about provision and
            funding of an agreed advice infrastructure are taken.

    {   Inland Revenue - With the introduction of Tax Credits and transfer
        of responsibility for administering Child Benefit, the Inland
        Revenue’s role in relation to working with the advice sector has
        developed.      The Inland Revenue has fostered closer working
        relationships with the Social Security Agency and the advice sector.
        Inland Revenue staff have been seconded to the A.S.A. organisations
        to develop working relationships on the ground and to raise
        awareness of the implications of Tax Credits. Operational staff are
        also involved in working forums with A.S.A. staff, S.S.A. staff and
        other relevant voluntary and community organisations in order to
        identify and iron out any problems faced by customers as a result of
        new systems. It is hoped that such relationships can be maintained in
        the long term. Although the Inland Revenue has yet to provide core
        funding for the sector, a small amount has been allocated to the
        constituent members of the A.S.A. delivering take up, informative
        and training work on tax credits.

1.2.7   Some funding agencies/bodies also support advice/information
        work if this fits with their funding priorities, however, this tends
        to be of a short term nature. Funding is allocated directly to
        voluntary organisations (regional and local), community
        organisations and advice providers, from a range of funders
        which include the Community Fund, the Community
        Foundation for N.I. (C.F.N.I.) and European Union Intermediary
        Funding Bodies. A number of independent charitable trusts
        also provide funding, such as Lloyds T.S.B., John Moore
        Foundation, etc. Belfast Regeneration Office (B.R.O.) and

                             Williamson Consulting
                         July 2005 Draft                                  12




    North West Development Office (N.W.D.O.), which are both
    funding branches within the Urban Regeneration and
    Community Development Group of D.S.D., have also provided
    funding to organisations which offer advice and information.
    The funding is often of a one off nature and makes the
    development of new work possible. It might include work on
    geographical cover (deprived areas), specific issues (e.g.
    money advice, disability, etc.) or specific groups of people
    (older people, ethnic minorities, etc.).     There are some
    concerns within the sector that this has actually skewed
    provision of advice and information. For example, funding
    being awarded for a money advice worker in one area of
    disadvantage and not another, or funding being awarded for a
    disability advice worker in one Council/H.S.S.T./H.S.S.B. area
    and not another. However, such funding is to be welcomed
    when it supports additional provision or activities, building on
    core advice services provision. There are also concerns that
    such funding has highlighted a need for certain types of
    support which cannot be met in the long term through existing
    funding sources, thus, in the long term, increasing the
    competition among providers for limited funding for core advice
    services. However, in some cases such funding can pump
    prime the development of services and may be successful in
    levering further funding from other sources, or become
    sustainable themselves. Some such funding even acts as a
    top up to ensure the continuance of core services in the long
    term. The sector generally views mixed funding as very
    positive, subject to there being an adequate statutory basis for
    core funding. Some examples of funding from such sources
    include:

{   funding for a very localised generalist advice service (e.g.
    Community Fund monies were obtained for 3 years by an advice
    agency servicing the Galliagh area of Derry City Council).

{   short term Executive Programme Funds (E.P.F.) funding for services
    which would otherwise be in danger of closing (e.g. Churches’ Trust
    Advice Centre in Derry)

{   short term funding to facilitate collaboration between a range of
    advice workers at a (part) Council wide level.

{   Funding to establish a debt management/money advice service which
    in the long term may be self financing (the Consumer Credit
    Management Service based in Limavady)
                        Williamson Consulting
                                July 2005 Draft                                    13




      {   Funding from a trust fund to facilitate training in money advice work

          The amounts available for advice services from such funding
          sources are likely to reduce in the future and have in many
          cases already started to decline.


1.2.8     It is also worth noting that changes in legislation and the legal
          sector can also have an impact on the advice and information
          sector. Examples include:

      {   imminent changes in immigration rules which create the need for new
          skills and updated information.

      {   the establishment of the Legal Services Commission.                The
          Commission is tasked with carrying out reform in the delivery and
          administration of Legal Aid. This has been undertaken in England
          and Wales and is at the very early stages in N.I. In England and
          Wales, Legal Aid monies have been contracted out to, among others,
          local advice services (provided they meet appropriate quality
          standards) to undertake work at a level which may reduce the need
          for legal action and therefore higher legal costs in the long term. In
          N.I. the newly established Legal Services Commission is
          implementing reform of Legal Aid with a view to, among other
          issues, making it more cost effective to the public purse. Any
          decisions made will impact on the need for advice services seeking
          such funding (if it is available) to adhere to certain standards of
          provision. The Legal Services Commission is also keen to consider
          how their plans fit with the D.S.D. Advice and Information Strategy.


1.3       Overview of the Advice Sector


1.3.1     The advice sector has grown considerably over the last 5-10
          years in terms of the number of organisations which provide
          advice and information. Much of this has been the result of,
          often unstrategic, funding made available to the community
          and voluntary sector. The level of advice work required has
          also been affected by changes in legislation and policies and
          by communities identifying the extent of the need for advice
          services. Advice work is often the initial development function
          of many community organisations and, as a result, additional
          funding for the sector has created substantial growth in
          community based advice providers. Some larger voluntary
                               Williamson Consulting
                              July 2005 Draft                                    14




        organisations have also been able to attract funding for the
        provision of advice and information, in many cases because
        their remit fits with funders’ priorities. However, it is worth
        noting that, according to advice providers, the opportunity to
        apply for such funding for advice work is reducing and this will
        have an impact on the sector.


1.3.2   There are a wide range of organisations providing advice
        and/information. These include:

        Government departments and agencies which provide information on
        issues relevant to their role and remit, or which provide support to
        organisations to do so on their behalf

        Regional and local voluntary organisations (and in some cases
        community groups) which provide information and advice on specific
        issues and/or provide a wide range of information and advice to
        specific target groups. For regional and local voluntary organisations
        advice and information generally forms one element of their work
        (though some are set up as regional voluntary advice organisations,
        such as Housing Rights Service). In general, the advice provided by
        regional and local voluntary groups is focused on a specific issue or
        targeted at a specific group of clients.

        Citizens Advice Bureaux - Advice and advocacy work is the sole
        function of local C.A.Bx.

        Independent Advice Services - some are primary advice providers
        (i.e. those for whom advice is their sole or main purpose) and some
        are community development organisations which provide advice
        services as one element of their work

1.3.3   All advice providing organisations are encouraged to be
        members of either Citizens’ Advice, Advice N.I. (formerly the
        Association of Independent Advice Centres (A.I.A.C.) and/or
        the Law Centre N.I. Some are members of all three bodies.

    {   Citizens’ Advice provides support to local C.A.Bx. offices, through
        the administration of a wide area network, provision of information,
        training and N.V.Q.s, advice on policy issues, advice on quality
        issues, and lobbying, etc. All local C.A.Bx. are affiliated to the
        Citizens Advice regionally which also provides insurance,
        representation on policy issues and strategic support.
                             Williamson Consulting
                              July 2005 Draft                                    15




    {   Advice N.I. was established to provide structured support to
        independent advice providers and to regional and local voluntary and
        community groups which provide advice and information as part of
        their work, and to community organisations which provide advice
        services. Its role is to ensure that such providers have good quality
        information, meet appropriate standards and are aware of how policy
        issues impact on their work. It also acts as a collective voice for
        these providers, co-ordinates policy work, provides N.V.Q.s, I.T.
        support, and a range of other services. Some Advice N.I. members
        are also (affiliate) members of Citizens‘ Advice

    {   The Law Centre N.I. provides support and training to local advice
        providers on legal and welfare issues. It also deals with the most
        complex legal issues (most of which test policy or legislation), which
        are mainly referred by advice providers. Most advice providers are
        members of the Law Centre. The Law Centre aims to ensure that
        members are aware of the impact of legal and policy issues on their
        work.

1.3.4   Representatives from Citizens‘ Advice, Advice N.I. and the Law
        Centre N.I. make up the Advice Services Alliance (A.S.A.)
        which is an overarching body for advice provision. Its main
        function is to act as a conduit between Government and local
        advice providers (who are members of one or all of the A.S.A.
        organisations). In theory it encourages the agencies to work
        together and there have been some significant examples of
        co-operation, in areas such as Welfare Reform and training
        (the Law Centre N.I. and Advice N.I. have developed a joint
        training programme - Advice Skills and Knowledge - which
        brings together elements of the Welfare Rights training and
        N.V.Q. training). Together Citizens’ Advice and Advice N.I.
        support a wide range of providers, with a different ethos but
        similar standards, which ensures that everyone has choice in
        how they obtain advice.


1.3.5   Advice is provided on a wide range of issues. This includes
        advice on welfare and benefits issues, health, education,
        employment, consumer, housing, money and debt issues, legal
        issues, etc. Some advice services provide a full range of
        advice, while some specialise on certain topics and/or target
        certain groups. Some advice work is considered specialist in
        that it may focus on a particular element of work at a more
        complex level or is targeted at addressing the needs of a
        particular group of people (e.g. legal advice on immigration,
                             Williamson Consulting
                             July 2005 Draft                                  16




        complex housing advice, advice which specifically relates to
        certain sections of society, money and debt advice, advocacy
        at S.S.A. appeals and tribunals, etc.)


1.3.6   The advice sector is diverse and complex, with a wide range of
        organisations providing information and advice and a wide
        range of information and advice provided. Therefore, providing
        a simple definition for the types of work undertaken is a very
        complex area which is discussed in the following section.


1.3.7   There is clear evidence of unmet need within the sector and it
        is generally believed that advice provision is under resourced.
        The majority of providers consulted in preparation for the
        strategy found it difficult to cope with demand and would
        welcome additional resources.             While it must also be
        recognised that availability has been shown to increase
        demand, there are other signs that the sector is under
        resourced. For instance, the employment conditions offered to
        advisors are seen as unattractive and many providers are
        finding it increasingly difficult to attract and retain staff. Many
        advice providers are forced to open for a limited period each
        day as they have insufficient funding to pay staff for longer
        working hours. These factors make it important that the
        strategy maximises the impact of limited resources, but also
        that it highlights the need for a larger, more stable core funding
        base for these important services.


1.3.8   In considering the sector, it became apparent that there are
        many examples of good practice which would form important
        exemplars for future advice structures. In particular, there are
        some examples of providers working together in defined
        geographical areas, or on discrete projects, in a collaborative
        manner which demonstrate the ability of the sector to work in a
        more strategic, highly effective and efficient manner.
        Throughout Northern Ireland there are a number of examples
        of well equipped and expertly staffed providers which are
        addressing the needs of a large population in a professional
        manner. Innovative use of technology and well developed
        relationships with community organisations both provide a
        platform for alternative means of delivering advice and
        information.   Finally, improving relationships between the
        sector and central Government agencies are paving the way to

                            Williamson Consulting
                               July 2005 Draft                                  17




          a better flow of information and the creation of mechanisms to
          improve policy formulation.


1.4       Defining Advice and Information


1.4.1     As part of the development of the strategy, consideration has
          been given to the types of work undertaken and the different
          organisations currently operating within the sector. This has
          been based on consultation with key stakeholders and
          consideration of relevant documentation and other definitions
          of advice and information.


1.4.2     Types of advice and information work

          People require information on a wide range of issues which
          affect their everyday lives. Most such issues fall within the
          responsibility of one or more Government departments (e.g.
          benefits, health, housing, consumer, employment, education).
          All Government departments and agencies have a duty to, and
          do, provide information on the services/support available to
          people. Some of this information is sought more often than
          others (e.g. benefits, housing, employment, consumer) and
          some is sought by specific groups of people (e.g. asylum
          seekers, patients, older people). Although Departments and
          agencies try to ensure that this information is widely publicised
          and accessible it may not reach everyone , especially the most
          vulnerable, or meet their needs for a number of reasons:

      {   People are not always aware of the existence of this information or
          how to access it.

      {   Some people may have difficulty reading or understanding
          information, how it relates to them and how they can use it.

          Some people are unable to act upon the information without help.
          This may be because of their own circumstances or because of the
          complexity of their situation. In such cases, practical support and
          assistance is required.

          Sometimes the dispute is with a Government department or agency.


                              Williamson Consulting
                              July 2005 Draft                                     18




        A public policy may disadvantage an individual or group of people
        and may need to be challenged. Few people would be able or willing
        to tackle Government policy by themselves.

        Some individuals’ circumstances may require a policy or point of law
        to be challenged and this requires a much higher level of expertise
        and experience than their own. In some cases they do not have the
        right to represent themselves.

1.4.3   There are clearly many situations when a Government agency
        cannot meet the need for independent advice and the need for
        an independent advice and information sector is therefore
        apparent. In fact, independent advice providers are also an
        important means of identifying weaknesses in public policy and
        practice. The role of advice and information providers can be
        categorised in terms of how these needs are addressed. The
        types of work undertaken by the sector can be defined in terms
        of:

    {   Access to Information - Basic provision of information to all
        citizens, especially the hard to reach (providing information/facts and
        signposting, making people aware of services, support, rights, etc).
        Many Government agencies and voluntary organisations perform this
        role.

    {   Interpretation of Information - Helping people to understand the
        information provided and how it relates to their own individual
        circumstances (Identify options and their outcomes. People can then
        make an informed decision on how to act.) Some Government
        agencies and many voluntary sector organisations carry out this
        function.

    {   Assistance to act on Information - providing people with practical
        assistance when their circumstances are non-standard and/or stop
        them from being able to help themselves. Assistance can be provided
        at a number of levels. With few exceptions, this role is largely
        performed by non-Governmental bodies.

        •   Practical support to help people make use of the information (e.g.
            letter writing, making phone calls,).
        •   Helping those who are unable to act on informed decisions
            without support. The level of assistance required depends on the
            complexity of the issue. (e.g. assistance in dealing with money
            and debt issues may be more complex)
                             Williamson Consulting
                              July 2005 Draft                                     19




    {   Advocacy/Representation - supporting people to challenge
        decisions/actions within an accepted policy framework (e.g. tribunal
        representation) This role can clearly only be performed by an
        organisation that is independent of Government.

    {   Challenging Public Policy or Practice - questioning and
        challenging policies/legal issues when they result in inequality and/or
        discrimination. This is likely to include lobbying on behalf of the
        population (and specific groups within it) on policy issues and/or
        legal work - taking assistance, advocacy or representation further and
        challenging law and policy. This role is generally performed by
        independent legal experts, such as the Law Centre, although Advice
        N.I. and Citizens‘ Advice and some regional voluntary bodies are
        also involved in lobbying for change in policy, and in challenging
        decisions through the courts.

1.4.4   Types of organisation

        In considering the types of organisation currently operating
        within the sector, we have identified that there is a general
        consensus that providers can be fitted into one of the following
        categories.

    {   Generalist - Provides basic information, advice, advocacy,
        representation on wide range of issues - e.g. welfare, housing,
        consumer, health, education, tribunals, money and debt. These
        include:

        •   Citizens Advice Bureaux
        •   Independent Advice Services - some of which are primary advice
            providers (i.e. those for whom advice is their main purpose) and
            some are community development organisations which provide
            advice services as one element of their work

    {   Specialist (case based) - These organisations have specialist
        expertise in a particular area and can offer a high level of advice,
        advocacy and representation on complex issues - e.g. housing, legal
        issues, etc. These include regional voluntary organisations such as
        Housing Rights, First Housing and Support Services, the Law Centre
        N.I.,, Belfast Unemployed Resource Centre, Children's Law Centre.

    {   Specialist (client based) - These organisations target a specific
        group of people and provide general information, advice, advocacy

                             Williamson Consulting
                             July 2005 Draft                                    20




        and representation on issues which are relevant to specific groups
        (e.g. for older people, people with disabilities, ethnic minorities,
        victims, etc.). While much of the information and advice that they
        provide is of a generalist nature and common to all people, their
        specialism is in understanding the chosen target group and how this
        information affects them specifically. Such organisations include
        regional and local voluntary and community groups such as Age
        Concern N.I. (and local Age Concerns), Chinese Welfare
        Association, Disability Action and local disability groups,
        N.I.A.C.R.O., local prisoners aid groups, Gingerbread N.I. (and local
        Gingerbread groups), Help the Aged, Mencap N.I., N.I.C.E.M., local
        carers groups, The Blind Centre N.I., Coalition on Sexual
        Orientation, Multi Cultural Resource Centre, N.I. Women‘s Aid
        Foundation (and local women‘s groups), Women‘s Support Network,
        etc. In some cases, specialist organisations carry out work at a more
        advanced or complex level.

    {   Statutory Based Organisations - In addition to information
        provided by many public bodies, there are also a range of statutory
        based organisations such as Labour Relations Agency, N.I. Human
        Rights Commission and the General Consumer Council, which are
        established to provide advice to the public in specific areas.

        It is worth noting that some of the Specialist providers may be
        both case based and client based - i.e. providing information,
        advice, advocacy and representation on specific issues which
        are relevant only to specific groups of people (e.g. specific
        information on aids and adaptations for people with
        disabilities).


1.4.5   It is much more difficult however, to match the type of work
        undertaken with the type of provider. For example, some
        generalist providers may undertake all five types of work
        described in Section 1.4.3. Some specialist providers may only
        undertake one type of work and this may be “access to
        information” or “challenging public policy”.         Therefore
        consideration needs to be given to defining advice and
        information providers in other ways. In terms of ensuring that
        resources are used effectively and that an appropriate
        infrastructure of provision is made available, the following
        categorisation of providers seems sensible.

    {   Generalist Advice Providers (G.A.P.).           Advice providing
        organisations should provide advice and support on a wide range of
                             Williamson Consulting
                          July 2005 Draft                                     21




    issues to the population as a whole. These services should be
    provided to an agreed and accepted quality standard. Providers
    should also ensure that their services are accessible to the community
    as a whole, and that particular attention is paid to ensuring that
    disadvantaged groups can access, and benefit from, their services.
    (Disadvantaged groups include those from deprived areas and those
    who are disadvantaged because of other issues such as age, disability,
    etc.) Generalist Advice Providers can also be subcategorised
    according to size.

{   Regional Specialist Organisations (R.S.O.). Regional Specialist
    Organisations should provide advice and guidance at a more complex
    level, on issues which require staff to be continuously working at a
    more specialist level, e.g., addressing more complex legal or housing
    issues, more complex employment matters, etc. Their work would
    generally be referred from the advice providing organisations
    (G.A.P.s) and others as appropriate. Training and support on the
    particular issue of concern should be provided to local advice
    providing organisations, so that they can deal with issues up to a
    certain point, enabling the Regional Specialist Organisations to focus
    on the more complex issues.

{   Regional Voluntary Organisations (R.V.O.). Regional Voluntary
    Organisations should provide advice and support which requires
    certain expertise in a particular issue to meet the needs of particular
    groups of people. These include regional organisations who work
    with groups of older people, people with disabilities, ethnic minority
    groups, etc. Most of those targeted by the Regional Voluntary
    Organisations should be able to use the services provided by G.A.P.s
    and in most cases this should be relevant and adequate to meet their
    needs. However, it is important to recognise the limited potential for
    a local advice provider to have a detailed understanding of the needs
    of specific groups of people. Accordingly, Regional Voluntary
    Organisations have an important role in:

    •   accessing such groups and encouraging them to seek assistance
        from, and effectively use, mainstream provision.
    •   provide specialist advice which is beyond the capacity of a good
        generalist provider
    •   offer support to those who feel more comfortable with a
        specialist organisation or have been in contact with them for a
        range of other reasons. However, it is important that regional
        voluntary organisations ensure that they do not duplicate the
        work of advice providing organisations.

                         Williamson Consulting
                                July 2005 Draft                                   22




          •   establishing quality standards for work with their target groups,
              by Generalist Advice Providers at a local level
          •   working with the A.S.A. to address policy issues which impact
              on the target groups with which they work.
          •   supporting advice providers to ensure that their services are
              provided in a way which best suits the needs and situations and
              characteristics of certain target groups.

1.5       Recent Changes in the Advice Sector/Context


1.5.1     The policy context section highlights the main policy and
          legislative issues which are likely to impact on the advice
          sector over the next few years. These include:

      {   Welfare Reform and Modernisation (including greater use of I.T.)

      {   The establishment of the Legal Services Commission

      {   The Review of Money Advice provision and the recommendations of
          the review

      {   The continuing commitment of Government to means testing in
          respect of social security benefits

      {   The development of alternative dispute resolution mechanisms.

      {   D.S.D.’s Neighbourhood Renewal Strategy

      {   Changes in immigration legislation

      {   Changes in organisational arrangements for tribunals

      {   Pathways for Change - Taskforce on Resourcing the Voluntary and
          Community Sector

      {   Promotion of e-Government policies


1.5.2     In addition there are other issues which are likely to impact on
          the sector in future and these include:


                               Williamson Consulting
                          July 2005 Draft                              23




{   the Review of Public Administration in N.I. which will impact on
    future support/funding structures for the sector

{   rising levels of personal debt which will impact on the need for
    money advice

{   increasing use of I.T. to access information

{   whether the N.I. Assembly recommences its work




                         Williamson Consulting
                                July 2005 Draft                                    24




2         The Review

2.1       The Review Methodology


2.1.1     It is anticipated that the Strategy for Advice and Information
          would be designed to match needs and resources and ensure
          best value in the provision of advice, information and
          advocacy, and would:

      {   provide a definition of advice

      {   secure best value and a realistic match between need and available
          resources

      {   prescribe measures to promote a stronger partnership between
          relevant Departments and key stakeholders

      {   contain an independent assessment of the equality and New T.S.N.
          impact of the Department’s advice and information activities,
          including funding support for the sector

      {   report on unmet need and areas of duplication

      {   identify future developments and funding priorities which take
          account of departmental priorities

      {   consider the role of the private sector and how it can provide support
          to the advice sector

      {   assess I.T. developments in the sector, minimising duplication

      {   include quality assurance recommendations

      {   assess volunteers’ contribution

      {   profile advice enquiries and make policy recommendations

      {   examine support from District Councils with recommendations for
          consistent minimum funding levels



                               Williamson Consulting
                              July 2005 Draft                                      25




    {   assess need for specialist posts, making recommendations on
        necessary funding levels and support costs

    {   provide guidelines to D.S.D. and Councils on commissioning of
        advice services

    {   identify future action required for cross-departmental support for the
        strategy

    {   develop an operational plan to take forward agreed recommendations
        with indicative time scales

2.1.2   To meet the above requirements and to develop the strategy,
        activities undertaken included:

    {   examination of relevant documentation (list of documentation is
        included in the Appendices)

    {   consultation with appropriate staff from D.S.D./V.C.U., the advice
        services organisations and key stakeholders in the statutory,
        voluntary and community sectors (a list of those consulted is
        included in the Appendices).

    {   questionnaires were disseminated to all 26 local councils to seek
        feedback on the extent to which they supported/provided advice and
        information services in their area, who the main beneficiaries were,
        how they ensured equity and good quality provision, what they
        viewed the main benefits of advice and information provision to be,
        the extent to which they identified gaps/duplication in provision, their
        future support for the sector, their views on the current funding and
        support structures and their views on the future roles of key
        stakeholders. 16 questionnaire returns have been received. Tables
        outlining support provided by Councils are included in the
        Appendices.

    {   questionnaires were disseminated to all Government Departments
        through the Interdepartmental Steering Group (check correct name).
        These sought feedback on the issues noted above in the Council
        questionnaires.

    {   questionnaires were disseminated to all organisations who are
        members of Citizens‘ Advice, Advice N.I. and the Law Centre N.I.
        These sought information on organisations providing advice,

                              Williamson Consulting
                               July 2005 Draft                                    26




          advocacy and information. This included; the type of organisation
          (e.g. regional voluntary, community sector organisation, etc.); the
          percentage of work which relates to advice, information and
          advocacy; geographical areas covered; targeted recipients; how
          equity and good quality is ensured; use of I.T.; views on
          gaps/duplication; views on factors which are likely to impact on
          sector; views on current support and funding structures; views on the
          future strategy. Detailed information on the nature of advice and
          information work was also sought (e.g. funding amounts and sources,
          number of staff and volunteers, number and type of enquiries, use of
          I.T., etc.). In total 170 questionnaires were disseminated. 45 were
          returned. Organisations were categorised as generalist advice
          providers and specialist advice providers. Definitions of each and a
          list of those organisations within each category are included in the
          Appendices. Overall, there were 63 generalist providers and 105
          specialist. Of the 45 returned, 37 were generalist and 8 were
          specialist.

      {   the information gathered from advice providers, Councils and
          Government departments formed the basis of the review of current
          provision.

      {   letters were sent to each political party. These outlined the purpose
          of the strategy and sought views on it. None replied.

      {   there were a number of presentations to the Steering Group and to
          D.S.D. agencies

      {   discussion meetings/formal planning sessions with the Steering
          Group.

      {   Other funders were contacted regarding their distribution of funding
          for advice services.


2.2       Consultation Feedback


2.2.1     The following section provides an overview of the main issues
          of concern within the advice sector through the analysis of
          questionnaires and consultation. It encompasses the views of
          advice service providers, Government representatives,
          Councils and other key stakeholders. Some of these issues
          have already been alluded to in previous sections, however
          they are highlighted here in relation to key stakeholders’ views

                               Williamson Consulting
                              July 2005 Draft                                      27




        on how they impact on the sector. The key issues identified
        have been categorised in terms of advice and information
        provision and, funding and resources.


2.2.2   Advice and Information Provision

        The following points relate to concerns about advice and
        information provision and the factors which are likely to impact
        on future provision.

    {   Range of Provision - There are concerns about the wide range of
        organisations providing advice and/information and the impact this
        has on levels of efficiency, effectiveness and quality. It is also noted
        that most of these organisations compete for limited resources. This
        often prevents any kind of rationalisation (although there are
        exceptions), co-operation and partnership working within the sector.
        These concerns were raised by Councils, advice providers,
        Government Departments and A.S.A. members

    {   Definitions - There are concerns about the lack of clarity in defining
        and describing advice, information and advocacy provision. At
        present definitions centre around whether providers are primary or
        secondary providers and are generalist or specialist providers.
        Currently there is no clear agreement as to what constitutes each, or
        which Government Department, agency or local authority has a remit
        to support each. This poses difficulties for consistency of support.
        E.g., some voluntary organisations, which see themselves as
        specialist secondary providers in terms of the advice and information
        they provide and/or their target group, indicated that they do not fit
        any long term funding criteria for advice and information provision,
        from either D.S.D. or Councils. Neither do they fit the funding
        criteria of other Government Departments which wish only to support
        the provision of specific advice and information relevant to their
        remit (when in fact, they believe that their target group requires
        holistic advice and information). Many such organisations are
        relying on other funding sources which are short term and totally
        dependent on funders’ priorities (whether these be geographical or
        theme based). This in turn results in inconsistent provision of such
        services. Overall, those consulted indicated that:

        •   there is an agreed need to have a shared definition of advice and
            information provision in terms of the type of work undertaken
            and the type of provider.

                              Williamson Consulting
                          July 2005 Draft                                    28




    •   Following on from this there is a need to clarify the roles and
        remits of advice and information providers on a N.I. wide basis.

{   Geographical differences - Geographically, there are wide
    variations in the number of advice providers in each Council area,
    with some having many and others having only one. In some
    Council areas there are good working relationships between the
    advice providers and with Council. However, in some areas the
    number and/or diversity of advice providers seeking and obtaining
    funding has resulted in unhelpful competition among providers. In
    the absence of N.I. wide guidelines on how to fund advice work (i.e.
    what type of advice work to fund, funding formulas, etc.), some
    Councils have indicated that they have had difficulties in justifying
    funding decisions and this is often complicated by Councillors
    advocating on behalf of (particular) communities/organisations. This
    results in the available funding being “spread” across a number of
    groups, duplication of provision and poorer value for money (with
    separate running/costs and overheads taking up higher proportions of
    advice budgets than necessary).

{   Gaps/Shortfalls in Provision - Identified gaps/shortfalls in advice
    and provision include:

    •   Money and debt advice - Geographically, there are
        inconsistencies in the provision of money and debt advice
        (including inconsistency in skills/knowledge levels). Current
        provision is generally driven by availability of resources, which
        again depends on funders’ priorities. There is no real
        infrastructure to support money advice. As noted in previous
        sections, D.E.T.I. has undertaken a review of the need for money
        advice. Since this, they have concluded that money advice
        provision be considered within the Advice and Information
        Strategy.
    •   Availability of skilled advice workers who can undertake tribunal
        representation. Again, current provision is generally driven by
        availability of resources, which can be inconsistent.
    •   Targeting advice and information at hard to reach groups. Those
        groups which were specifically highlighted were people living in
        rural areas, ethnic minorities, people with disabilities, older
        people and carers. There is a need to ensure that such groups can
        access information and advice in way which meets their needs.
        Voluntary organisations dealing with specific groups generally
        have a positive role in this regard. However, currently, provision
        is sporadic and depends on ability to attract funding, most of
        which is short term.
                         Williamson Consulting
                          July 2005 Draft                                     29




    •   Effectively targeting areas of deprivation.
    •   Due to limited availability of resources, some advice offices can
        only support part time advice staff, and as a result can only offer
        part time opening hours.

{   Consumer Advice - There are concerns within the advice sector
    about the duplication of consumer advice, with the launch of
    Consumerline (operated by D.E.T.I.), whilst many existing advice
    providers undertake this area of work (these also relate to the role,
    remit and financing of Consumerline). D.E.T.I. has responsibility for
    developing a consumer strategy for N.I. and Consumerline was born
    from this. It has been described in more detail in the policy context
    section of this report. Although some within the advice sector
    acknowledge the rationale for Consumerline, some have indicated
    that such a service could have been provided within existing advice
    services structures and believe that, at the very least, some money
    should be made available by D.E.T.I. for those cases dealt with by
    the advice sector (which require more support than can be dealt with
    through Consumerline). There is also a view that the consumer
    strategy and the helpline need to provide for independent advocacy,
    outside governmental structures.

{   Variable Quality - There were concerns expressed about variations
    in the quality of advice and information work undertaken, especially
    by some of the smaller organisations (who often have a vital role in
    serving isolated and/or hard to reach communities). However, this is
    an issue which is taken very seriously by Citizens‘ Advice, Advice
    N.I. and the Law Centre N.I. Each aims to ensure that consistent
    quality standards are established and maintained within their
    membership. In developing appropriate quality standards in the
    future, it was acknowledged that the work of the Legal Services
    Commission should be considered.

{   Contextual Changes - Factors which were considered likely to have
    greatest impact on the sector include:

    •   Continuously developing and changing Government policies
        (e.g. Welfare Reform, Review of Public Administration,
        Neighbourhood Renewal, etc.). These were thought to be
        dependent on the political agenda.
    •   Rising levels of personal debt
    •   Changes in the Community Legal System



                         Williamson Consulting
                          July 2005 Draft                                    30




{   I.T. - There is a need to make better use of I.T. in some parts of the
    sector:

    •   for the provision of information - however concerns about the
        “e-divide” need to be taken into consideration.
    •   in recording advice work consistently - Citizens‘ Advice have an
        electronic case management system in place for all members.
        Advice N.I. has established a system which many members are
        currently implementing, though some voluntary organisations
        dealing with specific themes have their own established systems
        (often linked to national systems) which better meet their own
        needs
    •   for advice workers to access up to date information - Citizens‘
        Advice have an Electronic Information System (updated at U.K.
        and N.I. level) which is used by all local C.A.Bx., some
        independent advice providers and some Government
        Departments/agencies. Those who do not have such a system
        tend to use the Internet and other relevant Government websites,
        etc. Some voluntary organisations dealing with specific themes
        use other relevant websites and national headquarter systems.
    •   In relation to the use of I.T. by advice providing organisations,
        there is a need to ensure that the digital divide between advice
        providing organisations is narrowed.

{   Supporting the Sector - There is a recognised need for stakeholders
    within the sector to work in partnership at all levels:

    •   Government Departments and other funders need to be more
        strategic. In particular they need to communicate with each other
        more effectively and work together in relation to how they
        support the advice and information sector. They also need to
        identify clear outcomes for the funding provided.
    •   Many of those consulted felt that the members of the A.S.A. need
        to work in a more co-ordinated and co-operative manner and to
        more clearly define their role and remit. Some felt that
        membership needed to be widened to include other stakeholders.
    •   Advice providers should acknowledge the need for
        rationalisation and co-operation

{   Staffing and Volunteering.

    •   The sector is experiencing difficulties in attracting and
        maintaining good quality advice workers. This is mainly due to

                         Williamson Consulting
                               July 2005 Draft                                    31




            the lack of job security and recognition, and lack of opportunities
            for career advancement.
        •   It is difficult to attract and maintain volunteers (for similar
            reasons).

    {   Influencing Policy - The advice sector is well placed to affect policy,
        with trends in enquiries being an effective means of identifying
        problems with the implementation of Government policies.
        However, it is acknowledged that this could be done more
        strategically through an effective A.S.A.

2.2.3   Funding and Resources

        The following bullet points outline the major issues relating to
        funding and resources for the advice and information sector.

    {   Reductions in funding sources. Funding for the voluntary and
        community sector (including the advice sector), from sources such as
        the Lottery, C.F.N.I. and the E.U. will decrease and this may result in
        (possibly damaging) competition among providers for limited
        resources, unless roles, remits and structures are agreed.

    {   Lack of strategic approach to funding. There is no long term
        strategic approach to funding the advice and information sector
        among Government Departments or other major funders.

        •   D.S.D. money is no longer ring-fenced for advice and
            information, and is included within Councils’ Community
            Support budgets. Some Councils and providers also expressed
            concern about some organisations receiving money for
            advice/information provision directly from D.S.D. (or
            B.R.O./L.R.I.), outside of the C.S. structure.
        •   There is no consistent approach between Councils to funding
            advice and information services. All Councils contribute
            substantially to advice provision, in some cases substantially
            greater amounts than the D.S.D. contribution. In the absence of
            any N.I. wide guidelines Councils make their own decisions
            regarding the funding of the sector. This in turn “skews” advice
            and information provision on a geographical basis, depending on
            what influences Council decisions locally.
        •   Some Government Departments provide funding for information
            and advice services. This funding generally focuses on advice

                              Williamson Consulting
                           July 2005 Draft                                    32




         and information which relates to their own remit (and not holistic
         general advice and information), although such funding can be
         used for pilot or innovative projects. While funders should be
         free to make their own funding decisions, there are three major
         concerns associated with such funding. These include:
            the apparent inconsistency and, sometimes, an apparent lack
            of strategic direction in such funding decisions;
            a lack of interdepartmental approach to supporting
            organisations; and
            the often short term nature of such funding.
     •   Other funding bodies often appear to have no strategic approach
         to funding the advice and information sector, either individually
         or collectively. Advice and information providers have generally
         received funding because they fit with funders’ priorities at the
         time. There are three major concerns associated with this
         funding:
            It results in inconsistent provision across N.I.;
            it “skews” provision and often supports innovation at the
            expense of core provision;
             funding often generates a demand which cannot be met in the
             long term by other funding sources.
    It is acknowledged that such funding adds significant value to the
    sector and allows for innovation, however, funders (whether D.S.D.,
    Councils, Government Departments or other major funding bodies)
    need to work together strategically in supporting the advice and
    information sector.

{   Monitoring. It is thought that, as well as funders working together
    to establishing guidelines for deciding how available funding should
    be allocated, they have a responsibility to indicate what they want for
    their money. From this, appropriate measuring and monitoring
    systems need to be established, implemented and continuously
    assessed.

{   Departmental Responsibilities for Advice and Information. Some
    of those consulted indicated that Government Departments, whose
    policies have a direct impact on the need for advice, should be
    prepared to take responsibility for resourcing advice and information
    provision. There are obligations for this within Partners for Change.
    There is evidence of this happening, some of which demonstrates
    good practice, however it is by no means widespread (mandatory

                          Williamson Consulting
                                July 2005 Draft                                      33




          Regulatory Impact Assessment of new policies should, if carried out
          properly, flag up the cost of new policies on the voluntary and
          community sectors, including advice provision.). There is a
          recognition that if such Departments were to be lobbied to support
          the sector, the support provided should be managed strategically.

      {   Private Funding. Some of those consulted indicated that financial
          institutions, whose business practices make major, and sometimes
          unsustainable, levels of debt possible, have a responsibility to support
          the provision of money and debt advice. There is evidence that this
          is already happening at a modest level in some cases, however a
          much closer link between lending and addressing debt needs to be
          established.


2.3       The Current Position


2.3.1     The section provides an overview of advice provision in N.I. It
          is based on questionnaire feedback from advice providing
          organisations and information from Councils and other
          Government Departments. This gives an indication of the
          diversity of organisations involved in the provision of
          information, advice and advocacy. However, it must be
          acknowledged that there are probably other providers of which
          we are unaware and therefore cannot be taken as an
          exhaustive list of advice and information providers. Further
          information on some of the structures are provided in Section
          1.2. The current key parts of the advice infrastructure are as
          follows:

      {   D.S.D. is the main distributor of central Government Funding for
          Advice Services. It directly funds umbrella organisations (i.e. the
          A.S.A. representative bodies) and allocates funding to councils
          through Community Support Programmes to in turn allocate to local
          advice providers

      {   Councils add rate support grant to monies received from V.C.U. for
          Community Support Plans. Advice Services are funded from this
          total pot. While the actual contribution towards advice by D.S.D. is
          no longer specified, it is thought that Councils typically contribute
          over 50%, and in some cases up to 80%, of the combined funding
          coming from Councils and D.S.D. into advice work.



                               Williamson Consulting
                              July 2005 Draft                                     34




    {   Other Government Departments support advice providers through
        providing funding for work which fits within their own remit. This is
        generally short term funding for specific projects, or top up funding
        for existing advice work.

    {   Three umbrella organisations, Citizens‘ Advice, Advice N.I. and the
        Law Centre N.I. provide support to advice providing organisations on
        the ground.        This includes information, training, quality,
        developmental support. Together they form the Advice Services
        Alliance which acts as a conduit between Government and the advice
        sector especially on issues of strategic importance

2.3.2   The following points provide an overview of generalist advice
        providing organisations, based on information extrapolated
        from questionnaire returns.

    {   there are 63 generalist advice providers (G.A.P.s) across N.I. In
        some Council areas there are no advice services (and advice is
        provided locally through contracts with provider in other Council
        areas). Some Councils areas have 1-2 providers. In Belfast there are
        20 advice providing organisations and in Londonderry there are 11.

    {   Generalist providers are of varying size and capacity and range from
        organisations which have one part time member of staff to
        organisations which have 10-15 staff and additional volunteers.
        Based on returns from 36 providers, typically each has 3.5 Whole
        Time Equivalent paid advice staff (of which 2 would be generalist
        advice staff, 0.4 would be dedicated money advice staff, 0.6 would be
        dedicated tribunal workers and 0.5 other specialist advice staff), 1.5
        volunteer and some admin. support.

    {   Based on 33 returns, a total of 200,000 enquiries are dealt with per
        year by these providers. This equates to an average of 6,000 per
        advice provider and 1,700 enquiries per advice worker. This is
        consistent with advice worker feedback relating to capacity to deal
        with advice enquiries. If the average figure is extrapolated for all 63
        generalist advice providers, an estimated 400,000 enquiries are dealt
        with per year by generalist advice providers in N.I. This suggests
        approximately 250 enquiries per 1,000 population in N.I. Demand
        for services appears to increase with capacity and therefore the
        number of enquiries/1,000 population varies over a large range. (e.g.
        Derry has 870 enquiries/1,000, Belfast has 240 enquiries/1,000). (It
        must be noted that there are differences in how advice work is
        monitored by providers and this contributes to such variations.)
                             Williamson Consulting
                             July 2005 Draft                                  35




{   The breakdown of enquiry types is as follows:



    Breakdown of Advice Enquiries
                            Other
                            12.0%
            Appeals/Trib.
                2.0%
         Health/Disab.
            5.0%

        Money/Debt
          6.0%

                                                             Benefits
           Housing                                            54.0%
            6.0%


           Employment
             7.0%

                     Consumer
                       8.0%



    •   Other enquiries include relationship/personal, taxes, utilities,
        education, leisure, human rights, justice, etc.

{   It must be noted that this does not necessarily provide an indication
    of the need for different types of advice work. For example,
    feedback indicates that there is a much higher demand for money and
    tribunal advice work than current resources can meet. If adequate
    resources were in place for this type of work then it is likely that it
    would make up a much higher percentage of total enquiries.

{   According to returns, funding averages £65,000 per provider. If this
    average is extrapolated for all 63 advice providers the total cost of
    generalist advice work at present is approximately £4 million per
    year. These figures indicate a current average local cost per advice
    enquiry of approximately £11 (this excludes the regional support
    organisations’ costs e.g. Citizens Advice, Advice N.I., the Law
    Centre). This is actually lower than the Lundy and Glenn findings of
    £11.40 per enquiry in 1999. According to the 31 advice provider
    returns, the breakdown of funding for advice is as follows:

{   Funding from Councils equates to approximately £1,800,000
    (including money received from V.C.U. through Community Support
    budgets). Of course the amounts allocated varies widely from
    Council to Council and some contribute much higher amounts on a
                            Williamson Consulting
                                  July 2005 Draft                                 36




        per capita basis than others (even allowing for levels of deprivation).
        While the actual contribution from V.C.U. is not specified, Councils’
        contribution probably accounts for around £1m. to £1.2m. of this
        total.

    {   All other funding sources make up approximately £2,230,000 per


           Advice Funding Sources
                                   Other
                                   12.0%

                   Char. Trusts
                      4.0%


                      E.U.
                     10.0%                                      Councils/VCU
                                                                   45.0%




              Community Fund
                 15.0%



                                           HSSTs
                                           14.0%


        year. Most of this is short term, one off, funding. Only funding from
        H.S.S.T.s, charitable trusts and other sources may continue on an
        ongoing, if sporadic, basis. It is reasonable to assume that around
        £1.2m. - £1.5m of current funding is not sustainable.

2.3.3   According to A.S.A. membership lists, there are currently 105
        specialist organisations providing advice and/or information
        and/or advocacy on a wide range of issues and for a wide
        range of target groups. Many of these may not be considered
        advice providers under normal definitions. A full list is included
        in the Appendices and has been sub categorised in relation to
        the issue or group targeted. It is also worth noting that there
        are probably many other organisations providing information
        and advice of which we are unaware and therefore this list
        should not be considered exhaustive.




                                  Williamson Consulting
                                   July 2005 Draft                              37




            Specialist A.S.A. Members
                                                            Health/Disab.
                                                                 19
                          Other
                           27



                                                                     Women's
                                                                       10
                  Prisoners
                      3
                 Ethnic Min.
                                                                    Housing
                      3
                                                                      9
                 Employment
                       4
                         Children                           Rural
                            4                                  9
                           Parenting                Comm. Dev.
                                4                      7
                               Older People
                                     6


      {   “others” include gay/lesbian, equality/Human Rights, education,
          legal/ justice, volunteering, poverty, consumer, money, etc.


2.4       Summary and Conclusions


2.4.1     One of the main problems facing the sector is that, for funding
          purposes, the “advice and information sector” is not recognised
          as a separate sector. Rather, it fits into other sectors for which
          funding is set aside, such as Community Development, Health,
          etc. Given the type of work undertaken and its importance in
          terms of addressing deprivation and ensuring equality, it should
          perhaps be recognised as a sector in its own right. All of those
          consulted recognised the need for a strategy and welcome
          moves towards developing it.


2.4.2     The key issues of concern raised include:

      {   The lack of clear infrastructure/strategy for the advice and
          information sector at a range of levels

      {   There is a very wide range of providers covering diverse areas with
          no clear categorisation in terms of type of work undertaken and/or
          type of organisation

                                  Williamson Consulting
                              July 2005 Draft                                     38




    {   No clear guidelines for Councils as to what services to support, and
        how to allocate resources

    {   Provision is inconsistent both in terms of geography, range and
        quality of provision. This inconsistency has been reinforced by
        funders.

    {   There are difficulties in attracting and maintaining staff and
        volunteers and much of this is related to funding problems

    {   There is a need to establish consistent monitoring and measuring of
        outcomes

    {   There is a need to make better, and more consistent, use of I.T.

    {   The constantly changing environment within which sector operates
        (i.e. policy issues)

    {   Lobbying/Challenging - the advice sector has a good position from
        which to challenge and lobby Government policies and
        procedures/systems. However, more strategic collaboration in some
        instances may have a greater impact.

2.4.3   The main areas which the strategy needs to cover therefore
        include:

    {   Defining advice/information and the scope of the sector

    {   Identifying the most appropriate infrastructure for the sector
        (geographic, type, support structures, etc.)

    {   Co-ordination/communication (Government, funders and providers)

    {   A basis for determining the level and allocation of resources required.

    {   A mechanism by which to deliver the funding

    {   Mechanisms to ensure consistent quality, minimise duplication and
        maximise resources




                             Williamson Consulting
                                 July 2005 Draft                              39




2.5       Rationale for the Strategy


2.5.1     Demand for Resources - Before we can start to set out the
          strategy for the future, it is important to explain the rationale
          behind the approach taken. The need for an advice and
          information strategy was driven by demands from public sector
          funders and providers alike who wished to see a clearer policy
          framework in which to determine where provision should be
          located and how this would be resourced. Undoubtedly the
          desire to increase the level of resources available to the advice
          sector played a significant part. Widespread consultation has
          demonstrated that the current provision of advice services,
          while often in appropriate locations, has not necessarily been
          established on the basis of a strategic analysis of need.
          Rather, provision has tended to grow through a combination of
          demand and funding opportunity. While an analysis of demand
          clearly shows that additional resources could be utilised by the
          sector, whether these are available or not, it is clear that
          existing resources must be used in an effective manner.
          However, quality of provision and ensuring that this gets to
          those who most need it are also paramount. Overall, there is a
          need for a structured approach to maximising the allocation of
          available resources to ensure that core advice services:

      {   are accessible to all, and targeted at those most in need

      {   can be sustained in the long term

      {   can demonstrate value for money

      {   can demonstrate appropriate quality of provision.


2.5.2     Maximising Resources - So what must we do to maximise
          the impact of resources, and secure additional resources, while
          ensuring quality and accessibility of provision? As earlier
          sections have shown, advice takes many forms. At its most
          basic community level, it may involve the provision of advice on
          frequently raised issues, (such as benefits, housing,
          employment, money/debt, appeals and tribunals, i.e.,
          generalist advice) to a great number of people on a regular
          basis. At its most specialist, it may involve providing highly
          complex advice and advocacy to a very small number of
          people who have a particular need, whether because of the

                                Williamson Consulting
                            July 2005 Draft                                40




        type of advice sought or because of their own particular
        circumstances. Clearly it would not be cost effective to provide
        very specialised advice, which is in relatively low demand, at a
        very local level. Conversely, advice which is sought regularly
        by a significant number of people should be as accessible as
        possible. As a basic principle therefore it would seem logical
        to:

    {   provide the most specialised and complex advice and advocacy,
        which is required by a small number of people, in a centralised
        manner, e.g. at a regional level within N.I.

    {   ensure that advice which is in high demand (i.e., generalist) is
        provided locally to allow appropriate accessibility for all.

2.5.3   Maximising Specialised Provision and Expertise - In
        practice, this analysis is too simplistic and we have to
        recognise that some of those who need highly specialised and
        complex advice on an infrequent basis may also be those who
        are least well equipped financially and socially to access
        centralised provision. Consequently there needs to be a clear
        communication link, between centralised and localised
        provision. This should facilitate referral processes, sharing of
        expertise and ensure quality of provision of very local
        generalised provision. This conclusion does not suggest that
        the very local advice provider should not have some
        knowledge of complex specialised issues. However, the small
        local provider must be aware of their limitations, know when to
        refer to a more specialist service and have appropriate links to
        make this possible. In turn, the centralised specialist provider
        must have confidence that local provision understands its
        limitations and can provide a high quality front-line service.
        Without this confidence, the provider of specialised or highly
        complex advice will seek to continue to provide a service at a
        very local level, effectively making poor use of resources.


2.5.4   Structural Options - There are a range of possible structural
        options for advice services in future. Each of these has been
        considered and has led to the conclusion that the structure
        pursued in the strategy (section 3) is most appropriate.
        Currently the options for structure appear to be as follows:



                           Williamson Consulting
                          July 2005 Draft                                     41




{   Do Nothing/Laissez Faire Approach (Continue with unstructured
    provision as at present) - while it would be untrue to say that all
    provision in Northern Ireland has been established in an unstrategic
    manner, it is true that much of the growth in advice services has
    happened as a result of factors which are not strategic. These include
    availability of funding and establishing advice work as the natural
    next step for a community based organisation. Much of this growth
    does reflect demand, however it does not necessarily reflect the most
    significant need. The downside of continuing with this current
    structure is that provision is not always located in the most
    appropriate place and there are some significant geographical gaps.
    In addition, the current structure leads to competition for funding and
    replicates systems and administrative effort.

{   Develop Current Structures - This could be done in a range of
    ways, however it would require decisions to be made about which
    advice provision is most appropriately located and best equipped to
    meet future needs. It would inevitably require some co-ordination of
    effort by funders to ensure that the best provision is properly
    resourced. Some mechanism would have to be found to gain
    participation by all existing providers to work towards a more
    coherent structure and this could prove difficult as many would see
    the process as threatening. In practice, such an organic approach is
    unlikely to produce a more strategic provision than at present.

{   Standardised Local Provision - Establish a minimum acceptable
    standard for an advice provider at a local level, including some
    measure of the size of catchment that each provider should
    realistically be expected to address. Funding would then only be
    given to providers that meet this requirement. This could result in a
    blanket coverage of small reasonably effective local advice
    provisions. To achieve this would require considerable support from
    funders and providers and would require some rationalisation within
    the sector. Due to comparatively large numbers, these small local
    providers would not be able to carry the level of expertise, specialism
    or skills available in a larger more centralised facility. Effectively,
    limited resources would make these small and many in number, or
    large and few in number. Accordingly, they would either be unable
    to address more complex issues due to lack of resources, or be too
    few in number and therefore inaccessible to many.

{   Hubs and Satellite/Outreach - The hub and satellite/outreach option
    is described in the detail in section 4. This option would have the
    advantage of ensuring that everyone has reasonable access to
    provision which is able to address complex, specialist or high level

                         Williamson Consulting
                              July 2005 Draft                                     42




        advice and advocacy, while also ensuring a good level of access to
        more basic generalist provision. This is also likely to offer the most
        cost effective solution thereby ensuring that resources can be used as
        effectively as possible. The number of hubs and satellites will
        depend on needs (based on deprivation and population, etc.), and on
        the overall level of funding available.

2.5.5   Demand and Level of Provision - Each of the future options
        poses some difficulties, however we can draw certain
        conclusions from the analysis:

    {   Specialised Advice and Support for the Sector - Very specialised
        provision which is needed by a relatively small number of people is
        only affordable at a regional level. However, people will still seek
        such advice from a local provider therefore appropriate referral,
        training and quality mechanisms need to be put in place to ensure that
        specialist organisations can guarantee that their client group have
        appropriate access to such support, at a local level. By implication,
        this means that the specialist regional voluntary bodies need to have
        an appropriate relationship with support organisations in the advice
        services sector and also for there to be appropriate relationships with
        local providers. Similarly, those organisations which support the
        sector need to have a close and effective relationship with each other
        and with the major regional voluntary bodies, to ensure efficient use
        of resources, consistent quality and a flow of accurate information.
        This leads us to the:

        •   Regional Specialist Provision/Voluntary Organisations. This
            includes provision which deals with specific complex issues
            (case based), and, provision which deals with specific groups of
            people with particular needs which have to be addressed in order
            to meet their advice needs effectively (client based). As very
            specialised provision is only needed by a relatively small number
            of people, it is only affordable at a regional level.

    {   Complex Advice Issues - There is a need for more specialised or
        complex provision, such as tribunal work and money and debt
        counselling, to be available relatively locally yet the complexity of
        these issues requires staff to specialise. This means that these cannot
        be provided on everyone’s doorstep. To balance accessibility and
        quality with appropriate levels of skill and specialisms requires a
        provider to have a minimum number of staff (probably at least 3 to 5
        involved in advice work directly). This level of provision can clearly
        not be made available on a very localised basis and this has lead to
        the idea of:
                             Williamson Consulting
                          July 2005 Draft                                      43




    •   Primary Generalist Providers (Area Hubs) - which are
        discussed in more detail in section 4.2 of the appendices. The
        location of these hubs would need to be carefully chosen to
        ensure that those who are most in need have greatest access and
        that rural areas are appropriately serviced. The capacity of such
        generalist providers (i.e. the number of advice workers and their
        skills) should depend on the target area served and the needs
        within that area (e.g. the size of the population, with reference to
        levels of deprivation, given that there is a correlation between the
        need for advice and levels of deprivation).

{   Commonly Sought Advice Issues - Many of the issues addressed by
    advice providers are in great demand. The large number of people
    seeking advice and support on issues such as benefits justifies a much
    more localised provision. At this level, those providing the services
    need to be highly skilled to provide advice in complex cases which
    raise a wide range of issues. However, such advice givers need also
    to have an understanding of their own limitations and know when to,
    and who to, refer clients to if more specialised support or complex
    issues are faced. Accordingly, very localised provision needs to have
    an appropriate relationship with a hub structure. This has lead to the
    idea of:

    •   Outreach/Satellite/E-Access - Local provision does not
        necessarily mean static office based advice giving. In fact,
        increasing use of Internet technology creates the opportunity for
        E-Access through E-mail or, perhaps, automated advice in
        certain circumstances (although it is recognised that this would
        need to be of an appropriate quality). Local provision might also
        involve outreach work in rural areas, home visits, working with
        local community organisations to provide support for Internet
        linked provision and through a range of other media. This is
        discussed in more detail in section 4.5.




                         Williamson Consulting
                              July 2005 Draft                                    44




2.5.6   Such a structure could prove highly effective and would
        maximise advice provision by offering the highest quality of
        advice and maximum access for those who most need it.
        However, this can only work if there are:

    {   good communication links between centralised specialist and
        localised generalist providers to ensure appropriate referral
        mechanisms and that the roles and remits of centralised specialist and
        localised generalist organisations are clear

    {   appropriate training and quality assurance mechanisms which
        provide local generalist providers with necessary expertise in
        specialist areas, along with a clear understanding of what they should
        and should not attempt to do.

    {   a shared view of how the structures work and adequate funding
        to support this - this would avoid pointless and damaging
        competition for resources or reluctance to refer clients to those who
        can best meet their needs.

2.5.7   The Core Strategy is set out in section 3. This considers how
        the advice sector can maximise its resources, ensure quality of
        provision and can attract other resources, utilising a structure
        based on the premise set out in the paragraphs above. It is
        thought that many existing advice providers already fit within
        such a structure. Others may evolve to become an integral
        part of this proposed structure.      It must be recognised
        however, that the level of provision across Northern Ireland is
        inconsistent. In some areas maximising the use of available
        resources may require a radical rethink by some providers and
        funders. A new more strategic structure is clearly needed,
        however this must allow sufficient flexibility for the best to
        flourish and must accommodate new provision to grow to meet
        changing needs. An adequate time scale for implementation of
        the strategy takes account of the level of change required at
        regional and local levels.




                             Williamson Consulting
                                 July 2005 Draft                                   45




3         The Core Strategy

3.1       Overall Aim and Purpose of Strategy


3.1.1     For it to be considered a success, the strategy must produce a
          series of outcomes:

      {   advice must get to all of those who need it

      {   provision must be comprehensive and equitable

      {   current difficulties with quality, duplication, etc., must be resolved

      {   all those involved in providing or funding advice and information
          work should have a shared view

      {   There should be an adequate level of funding to ensure that need is
          met

3.1.2     Accordingly, the overall aim of this work must be:

      {   a coherent and deliverable plan which has widespread ownership


3.2       Principles and Values


3.2.1     There are certain principles and values which must underpin
          the strategy. These have been agreed with the Steering Group
          and are noted below:


3.2.2     Primary principles include

      {   Independence from Government and political influence

      {   Advice and information must be free

      {   Provision must be confidential

                                Williamson Consulting
                                 July 2005 Draft                                    46




      {   Services must concentrate on those most in need

      {   Provision must be accessible (building, neutrality, location), and,
          while it should not reinforce sectarian boundaries, should in the short
          term bear in mind the reality of interface communities

      {   Provision must be of high quality

      {   Provision must be appropriate to clients’ needs (i.e., be holistic and
          client focused)

      {   Provision must be representative of the communities it serves (i.e., it
          should have a locally based management committee and should
          reflect local needs)

3.2.3     In addition advice and information provision must be:

      {   cost effective, but not at the expense of quality

      {   auditable

      {   accountable to funders and users

      {   able to demonstrate equality and equity

      {   able to meet legal requirements

      {   sustainable - core provision (with an expectation of innovation and
          entrepreneurial activity)

      {   delivered in a way which encourages empowerment and self help


3.3       Scope of the Strategy

3.3.1     In developing any strategy there must be a clarity about what is
          and is not included. The D.S.D. Strategy will form a basis for
          influencing units and agencies within the department in any of
          their work which potentially impacts on the need for, or
          provision of, advice services. Through the strategy, D.S.D. will
          seek to influence other Government departments or agencies
          in work which affects the sector. Similarly, many non statutory
          bodies fund the sector and the Department hopes that they
                                Williamson Consulting
                            July 2005 Draft                                 47




        would take cognisance of the strategy in planning such support
        in future. The strategy seeks to address all information and
        advice work, and the structures which provide this, within the
        voluntary and community sectors. The strategy does not
        attempt to address information provided directly by
        Government Departments or agencies, however it is important
        that these bodies have an understanding of how the strategy
        might affect their work and vice versa.

3.3.2   The strategy has a time scale of 5 - 6 years, i.e. it is expected
        to be fully delivered by December 2011. While this is a long
        time scale, it is recognised that the strategy requires radical
        change in some parts of the sector. Such change is often
        difficult and this time scale is thought to provide adequate
        opportunity for all those involved to adapt and accept the need
        for such progress.

3.3.3   Within the strategy a number of definitions of advice and
        information are used. These are shown in the following
        diagram and explained in the bullet points below.




                                  Challenging
                                    Policy


                             Advocacy/Representation



                            Assistance to act on
                                information


                       Interpretation of information


                           Access to information




                           Williamson Consulting
                          July 2005 Draft                                      48




{   Access to Information - Basic provision of information to all
    citizens. (this includes information provided by many public bodies
    as part of their service delivery obligations)

{   Interpretation of Information - Helping people to understand the
    information provided and how it relates to their own individual
    circumstances. (this includes the work of help lines, but also more
    comprehensive face to face support for those who may have difficulty
    with language, understanding the implications for themselves, etc.)

{   Assistance to act on Information - providing people with practical
    assistance when their circumstances are non-standard and/or stop
    them from being able to help themselves. (this might include
    statutory support for individuals, but is more often provided by
    independent organisations who can offer fully independent
    assistance).

{   Advocacy/Representation - supporting people to challenge
    decisions/actions within an accepted policy framework (this would
    include the work of many larger, and some smaller, advice providers
    and would extend to tribunal and Commissioner level work)

{   Challenging Public Policy or Practice - questioning and
    challenging policies/legal issues when they result in inequality and/or
    discrimination, and commenting on policy consultations. (this may
    involve legal action, lobbying and policy comment and is usually
    undertaken by larger regional bodies such as the A.S.A. members.)

    Organisations are defined in the following way:

{   Funders - any organisation that provides funding to the voluntary or
    community advice sector

{   Generalist advice providers - all organisations that provide advice
    to the whole community on a range of issues at a local level (small
    and large)

{   Regional Voluntary Organisations/Specialists - any voluntary
    body that has a N.I. wide remit and/or works with a discrete group of
    people or deals only with a specific issue

{   Support organisations - those bodies which work at a regional level
    to provide support, training, etc., to local generalist advice providers
    and/or specialist providers
                          Williamson Consulting
                                July 2005 Draft                                49




3.4       Vision for Advice Work


3.4.1     Any good strategy should start by considering how provision
          could be in the very long term and then should ascertain how
          this might be translated into long term, medium term and short
          term practical action. The following sections build on the vision
          for advice work, by considering first the long term objectives
          and then by setting out how these will be achieved through
          shorter term action (the medium and short term objectives).


3.4.2     The future vision for advice work by 2011, is:

      {   that everyone, particularly the most disadvantaged, has access to
          the right information and the ability to benefit from it

          and by implication this will require:

      {   an effective and efficient infrastructure, adequately resourced to
          meet the most significant need, with appropriate mechanisms in
          place to ensure quality provision.

          To achieve this vision the infrastructure and resource base
          must be appropriate. The following sections set out the
          priorities for provision by 2011, while Section 3.5 determines
          how to get there and Section 3.7 describes the detailed
          infrastructure that will result.


3.4.3     Infrastructure

          Ultimately, this ideal advice and information infrastructure will:

      {   offer appropriate types of provision

      {   ensure appropriate access for all

      {   proactively target those who most need advice

      {   have an appropriate support infrastructure


                               Williamson Consulting
                                 July 2005 Draft                            50




3.4.4     Resources

          This structure can only be achieved with an ideal resource
          base which will:

      {   facilitate long term stability and sustainability

      {   adequately cover the cost of meeting the most significant needs

      {   ensure quality of provision

      {   offer reasonable access to advice, for all


3.5       Delivering the Vision (The Objectives)


3.5.1     The vision can only be achieved through appropriate action.
          Work needs to progress consecutively in a range of different
          areas. To ensure that the appropriate steps are taken in a
          timely manner, in each of these areas, the following long and
          short term objectives have been established. In each case
          objectives are set out under each area of work, starting with
          what must be achieved in the longer term (the Primary
          Objective). These are followed by what must be done in the
          shorter term to reach these longer term objectives. In some
          areas it will be necessary to achieve the ideal position at an
          earlier stage. In these cases, the Primary Objectives have
          been given a medium term time scale. Long term objectives
          are those with a time scale of 4 - 5 years, medium term 2 to 3
          years and short term are less than 2 years.


3.5.2 1 - High Level Generalist Advice Provision

          Primary Medium Term Objective 1: To have an appropriate
          number of high quality, adequately staffed and equipped
          generalist information and advice hubs - see 4.2. (by
          December 2008)

          Short Term Objective 1.1: To gain widespread agreement on
          the elements that are needed within a generalist hub (by March
          2006).

                                Williamson Consulting
                           July 2005 Draft                                  51




      Short Term Objective 1.2: Have carried out a mapping
      exercise to identify the most appropriate location for generalist
      hubs (by October 2006)

      Short Term Objective 1.3: Have established a pilot hub, with
      pseudo satellite links (with existing providers, if appropriate) to
      test the concepts and to iron out operational difficulties (by
      December 2006)


3.5.3 2 - Maximising Access to Basic Advice Provision

      Primary Medium Term Objective 2: To ensure that all
      citizens have access to advice and information and that
      appropriate arrangements are made to proactively support all
      of those who are most disadvantaged. (by December 2007)

      Short Term Objective 2.1: To identify where satellite and
      outreach provision should be located to provide most access to
      the greatest number of disadvantaged people, through
      consultation with communities, Councils and providers (by July
      2007)

      Short Term Objective 2.2: To identify how local advice work
      (see 4.5) can best be resourced to ensure that those who have
      most difficulty accessing advice have it brought to them (by
      April 2007)


3.5.4 3 - Resourcing the Sector in Future

      Primary Long Term Objective 3: To ensure that there are
      sufficient resources to consistently sustain an adequate level of
      core advice provision across N.I. (by December 2011)

      N.B. - “adequate” is assumed to mean core funded hubs and
      sufficient outreach, satellite and E Access to ensure that those
      who are most in need can easily access high quality provision.

      Short Term Objective 3.1: To have established a mechanism
      whereby Government Departments involved in funding advice

                          Williamson Consulting
                          July 2005 Draft                                  52




      and information giving organisations can share information and
      can ensure best use of funding (by December 2006)

      Short Term Objective 3.2: To achieve agreement across
      Government Departments and agencies on the principles to be
      applied to advice and information work at both regional and
      local levels, based on the D.S.D. Advice and Information
      Strategy and Partners for Change (by March 2007)

      Short Term Objective 3.3: To have established and shared
      the strategy with all significant non Governmental funders and
      obtained their agreement to consider this in future funding
      decisions in relation to advice and information provision
      (November 2006)

      Medium Term Objective 3.4: To have secured adequate
      resources from within Government, the wider statutory sector
      and, where appropriate the private sector, to core fund an
      agreed advice infrastructure which includes generalist advice
      hubs, outreach, satellite and “E” based provision to at least
      100% of agreed hub costs and 50% of agreed local provision
      (by July 2007)


3.5.5 4 - Quality of Provision

      Primary Medium Term Objective 4: To ensure that only
      advice providers which meet A.S.A. agreed quality standards
      receive public funding (by July 2007)

      Short Term Objective 4.1: The A.S.A. will have appointed an
      independent Chairperson and have obtained secretarial
      support - see 4.3. Procedures will be established to monitor
      and record the work of the A.S.A. (by April 2005)

      Short Term Objective 4.2: The A.S.A. will have established a
      Specialist Advisory Panel made up of senior representatives
      from regional voluntary organisations which will advise A.S.A.
      on quality, training and access issues in relation to their client
      group (by January 2006)



                          Williamson Consulting
                         July 2005 Draft                                53




      Short Term Objective 4.3: The A.S.A. will be reviewed after 3
      years. (by September 2007)

      Short Term Objective 4.4: The A.S.A. will produce a
      standard set of quality measures for generalist hubs, satellite
      provision and outreach to cover training, I.T., reporting
      systems, premises and adherence to the core values of advice
      work (by April 2006)

      Medium Term Objective 4.5: To ensure that 80% of advice
      provision, which has 3 or more advice staff, meets A.S.A.
      quality standards (by December 2006)

      Short Term Objective 4.6: To ensure that 50% of smaller
      advice providers (2 or less advice staff) meet A.S.A. quality
      standards (by March 2007)

      Short Term Objective 4.7: To ensure that 80% of all funded
      advice provision has an acceptable I.T. based case recording
      system in place to monitor advice work consistently (by
      December 2006)


3.5.6 5 - Utilising Existing Resources Effectively

      Primary Long Objective 5: To improve the use of existing
      resources across the advice and information sector (ongoing)

      Short Term Objective 5.1: To achieve agreement on the
      range of training provision that should be made available to
      advice providers (by June 2006)

      Short Term Objective 5.2: To have an integrated training
      strategy which ensures that there is a mechanism to provide
      effective co-operation and to best use all training provided by
      A.S.A. members (by June 2007)

      Short Term Objective 5.3: To ensure that the A.I.M.S. and
      Citizens‘ Advice I.T. systems are able to achieve a shared
      standard in terms of monitoring, reporting and auditability (by
      December 2006)
                         Williamson Consulting
                                July 2005 Draft                                    54




          Long Term Objective 5.4: To have a single shared I.T. based
          case recording and information system across the advice
          sector which embraces the advantages of Advice N.I.’s AIMS
          and the Citizens’ Advice CARMA systems and ensures access
          to accurate online information and is fully auditable (by
          December 2008)


3.6       Structures


3.6.1     To achieve the objectives set out in the last section it is
          necessary for the advice and information sector to move
          towards an appropriate infrastructure. This is shown in the
          following diagram.


3.6.2     By 2011, the key elements of this structure will be as follows:

      {   D.S.D., through V.C.U., will have overall responsibility for the
          delivery of the strategy. D.S.D. will also ensure that funding follows
          the objectives, i.e. achieving funding will flow from meeting the
          required standards and progress. V.C.U. will also have an important
          role in communicating the strategy to other parts of Government and




                                    D.S.D.


                                  A.S.A./
                               Reg. Vol. Orgs


                            Primary Generalist
                           Providers (area hubs)


                           Outreach/Satellites
                              (very local)

                               Williamson Consulting
                          July 2005 Draft                                     55




    to other funders and in encouraging them to support the long terms
    plans.

{   The A.S.A. will be responsible for drawing up appropriate quality
    standards and for ensuring that duplication of support is minimised.
    This will require the members to work together towards common
    training programmes, shared standards of provision, I.T., etc.

{   Regional Voluntary organisations will have an important role to play
    in ensuring that their target groups, or those who are affected by the
    specific issues that they tackle, have access to appropriate advice and
    information. They will work closely with A.S.A. to ensure that their
    priorities are reflected in training and quality standards. They are
    likely to provide both a referral mechanism and perhaps direct
    training to local advice providers.

{   There will be a modest number (perhaps 10 - 15, which might reflect
    new Council boundaries recommended by the R.P.A.N.I.) of high
    quality, comprehensive, generalist advice providers (or hubs). Each
    of these will have an adequate number of appropriately trained advice
    staff and administrative support to allow them to cover all of the
    issues defined in more detail in the appendices. They will be located
    in neutral locations accessible to public transport, usually in a
    densely populated area but within ten miles of anyone in N.I. Their
    locations will seek to address social need. During 2006, a pilot hub
    will be established to allow the operational issues and relationships
    with satellites, regional voluntary organisations and funders to be
    worked out in detail.

{   There will be a series of small satellite provisions, working
    collaboratively with, or a sub set of, the generalist advice provider
    hubs. In addition, hubs will operate outreach to areas of low
    population density and to those who are unable to access provision
    otherwise. All satellite and outreach provision will work in a
    collaborative manner with the hubs.




                         Williamson Consulting
                               July 2005 Draft                                    56




3.7       Monitoring and Review Plan


3.7.1     The Advice and Information Strategy spans a 5 - 6 year period.
          Within this time there may be a number of changes outside of
          the remit of the plan which will impact on its implementation
          and it is important to monitor the delivery of the Strategy within
          this context. It is acknowledged that some elements of the
          plan may change in response to issues in the wider context.
          To ensure that the Strategy remains dynamic and relevant, the
          plan will be reviewed and updated on an ongoing basis. This
          will include:

      {   6 monthly progress reviews by the Advice Services Steering Group
          made up of representatives from V.C.U. and the A.S.A.
          organisations, followed by the production of a 6 monthly action plan.

      {   An annual review and updating of the Strategy by the Advice
          Services Steering Group

      {   An interim review after 3 years, to consider the extent to which
          objectives have been achieved to date and to examine the
          effectiveness of the implementation structures

      {   An interim review of the A.S.A. after 3 years to consider its future
          role in relation to the strategy.

      {   An external review after 5 years with a view to making
          recommendations on future strategic approaches




                               Williamson Consulting
                                                                                     July 2005 Draft          57

4     Appendices
4.1   Strategy Timeline

      Activity                                       Obj.     2004   2005     2006      2007    2008   2009   2010   2011   2012   2013   2014
      Agree on hub elements                         S/T 1.1
      Identify hub locations                        S/T 1.2
      Have hubs in place                             M/T 1
      Identify satellite locations                  S/T 2.1
      Agree resourcing outreach                     S/T 2.2
      Advice available to most disadvantaged         M/T 2
      Mechanism for Govt. to share info.            S/T 3.1
      Govt. bodies agree funding principles         S/T 3.2
      All non public funders aware of strategy      S/T 3.3
      Secured funding for 100% hubs/50% rest        M/T 3.4
      Adequate resources for all N.I. core advice    L/T 3
      ASA has independent chair & Sec. support      S/T 4.1
      ASA has Specialist Advisory Panel             S/T 4.2
      ASA reviewed                                  S/T 4.3
      ASA produce standard quality measures         S/T 4.4
      80% of advice with 3+ staff meets ASA stds.   S/T 4.5
      50% of small providers meet ASA stds.         S/T 4.6
      80% of providers have acceptable I.T.         S/T 4.7
      All funded advice meets ASA standards          M/T 4
      Agreement on training provision               S/T 5.1
      Integrated training strategy                  S/T 5.2
      Shared IT reporting/monitoring standards      S/T 5.3
      Single, fully auditable IT system             S/T 5.4
      Maximisation of available resources            L/T 5


                                                                     Williamson Consulting
                                July 2005 Draft                                     58




4.2       A Primary Generalist Hub


4.2.1     A primary generalist hub will be a comprehensive locally based
          advice provider. Its purpose will be to provide reasonably
          accessible advice, advocacy and high level support on a range
          of basic and complex general advice issues. It will also be able
          to offer first line support to those who have specific needs and
          will act as a referral point to specialist agencies where
          dedicated specialist advice is required.


4.2.2     It will incorporate the following elements:

      {   An adequate number of trained advisors able to offer advice on each
          of the core areas of general advice provision and to address particular
          specialist needs at a basic level. The number of advisers will depend
          on the size of the catchment area but each hub is likely to have
          between four and eight advisors.

      {   Each hub will have dedicated money and debt counselling and the
          ability to carry out tribunal and high level advocacy work.

      {   Hubs will be located on main transport routes, ideally reasonably
          close to densely populated areas but sufficiently accessible to more
          sparsely populated rural locations.

      {   Each hub will meet the highest standards of accessibility in terms of
          disabled access and one advisor will have some expertise on
          disability issues.

      {   Each advisor will carry responsibility for one or more specialist
          areas. Advisors will not be expected to be experts in these areas but
          will have sufficient understanding to recognise the particular needs of
          the client group and to understand how and when to refer clients to
          regional voluntary bodies.

          As a minimum, hubs will have specialist expertise in disability
          issues, housing, the needs of ethnic minorities, older people,
          single parents and children.




                               Williamson Consulting
                             July 2005 Draft                                59




4.2.3   All hubs will be linked to a range of outreach and satellite
        provision. This is described in more detail in the following
        sections. Such provision may be offered by smaller advice
        providers, working collaboratively with the hubs, or maybe
        directly managed by the hubs in some cases. Hubs will have a
        good relationship with larger community based organisations in
        the area so that appropriate referral mechanisms can be
        established. These will also form the basis for community
        based E- access points.


4.2.4   Each hub will have well established relationships with relevant
        regional voluntary bodies and support structures at a Northern
        Ireland level. These will ensure that hubs can maintain their
        quality, through appropriate training, access to specialist
        information, regular updating of general information and
        provision of appropriate training for staff.


4.2.5   Primary generalist hubs should be within reasonable distance
        of everyone living in Northern Ireland and ideally 80% of the
        population should live within five miles of a hub.


4.2.6   All generalist hubs will offer advice/advocacy in the following
        areas:

    {   Benefits (including Disability Benefits, Income Support, Housing,
        J.S.A., Tax Credits, Pension Credits

    {   Appeal and Tribunal support and representation

    {   Money and Debt

    {   Consumer

    {   Basic Immigration (with more complex cases referred to specialist
        organisations), Administration of Justice, Human Rights

    {   Employment

    {   Housing

    {   Education

                            Williamson Consulting
                            July 2005 Draft                        60




{   Health and Disability

    More complex enquiries relating to employment, housing,
    education and health and disability should be referred on to
    specialist organisations as appropriate.




                            Williamson Consulting
                                 July 2005 Draft                                   61




4.3       A.S.A.


4.3.1     The Advice Services Alliance (A.S.A.) is likely to have a helpful
          future role in the advice sector infrastructure. It is made up of
          Citizens Advice, Advice N.I. and the Law Centre.
          Organisations providing advice are affiliated to at least one of
          these bodies. Although, the three organisations which make
          up the A.S.A. can, at times, be perceived as representing the
          sector, it is acknowledged that advice providers have a degree
          of autonomy and use their membership of these bodies for
          advice and support on a wide range of issues which affect the
          sector. This includes:

      {   advice on operational/management issues (including implementation
          of quality procedures)

      {   back up support on systems and procedures used to facilitate efficient
          and effective advice work

      {   dissemination of information on wider, often strategic, issues which
          impact on members’ work

      {   facilitation of policy consultations involving the sector

      {   lobbying on behalf of members and/or the sector as a whole on
          policy/legislative issues which affect advice work

      {   training/updating for advice staff

      {   support in developing new projects

      {   support in seeking and obtaining funding


4.3.2     It is acknowledged that the A.S.A. has faced, and will continue
          to face, many difficulties in fulfilling some of its roles. The
          three organisations wish to maintain their own roles/ethos
          within the advice sector and have had limited experience of
          working together in the past in this way. It will take time,
          resources, and a little “give and take” for the A.S.A. to operate
          effectively as a body in its own right. It is clearly essential that
          the A.S.A. operates in a business like and accountable


                                Williamson Consulting
                              July 2005 Draft                                      62




        manner.   For         this   reason      the   following   has    been
        recommended:

    {   appointment of an “independent” Chairperson for the A.S.A.
        The Chairperson should not be connected to any of the A.S.A.
        organisations in any way and should act as an independent, honest
        broker, guided by the Strategy, to ensure that any actions taken by the
        A.S.A. are for the good of the sector as a whole. D.S.D. should take
        responsibility for this appointment, in conjunction with the A.S.A.
        member organisations.

    {   establishment of a secretariat function for the A.S.A. body. This
        should be resourced by V.C.U. It could either be provided by V.C.U.
        directly, or the independent Chairperson could take responsibility for
        the provision of the secretariat (resourced by V.C.U.)

    {   A.S.A. should not take responsibility for allocating funding as this
        could interfere with its representative and strategic function.

    {   A.S.A. should be reviewed after three years to consider its future
        role, to coincide with the first review of the Advice and Information
        Strategy

4.3.3   The main areas of focus for the A.S.A. should include:

    {   Ensuring most efficient use of training resources for the advice
        sector. Ultimately, advice staff on the ground require training that
        enables them to deliver advice work to an agreed standard across the
        board, regardless of who provides that training and how it is
        provided. It is acknowledged that each A.S.A. organisation will have
        their own training plans/methods of delivery. As long as these enable
        advice staff to deliver their services to the required standard, this is
        not a problem. However, in future, to avoid duplication and to ensure
        best use of resources for training, it is recommended that the A.S.A.
        bodies collaborate in drawing up and delivering training courses, to
        ensure that the standard and content is the same and that all training
        course places are fully utilised.

    {   Ensuring consistent quality standards across the sector. In the
        past, the A.S.A. has drawn up quality standards for the advice sector
        and these have been updated following a review of advice provision
        for Derry City Council. As part of this Strategy it is recommended
        that these standards be examined and updated by the A.S.A. bodies in

                              Williamson Consulting
                           July 2005 Draft                                       63




    line with this Strategy. The development of a set of basic standards
    may be useful in the context of the Legal Services Commission. In
    the long term, the A.S.A. bodies will ensure, as a minimum, that their
    members meet these standards.

{   Lobbying and campaigning. The A.S.A. bodies already have a key
    role in lobbying on behalf of their members on a wide range of issues
    and it is recommended that each continue to do this as appropriate.
    However, there are some policy/legislative issues which affect the
    sector as a whole, where better results for the sector may be obtained
    if the A.S.A. organisations lobbied as a single body. In some cases it
    may also be appropriate to involve other regional voluntary
    organisations if the issue is particularly relevant to their area of work,
    or to the population they represent.

{   Seeking funding for the sector as a whole. It is acknowledged that
    each A.S.A. organisation will continue to independently identify
    funding opportunities and seek funding for their members, and for
    themselves, for specific projects/needs. This will continue to be an
    appropriate role for the individual A.S.A. organisations. However, it
    is recommended that, where appropriate, they communicate to ensure
    that any funding duplications are limited. It is also recommended
    that they work collectively, with D.S.D., as the A.S.A., lobby other
    Government Departments/funders (including the private sector) for
    additional funding for the sector as a whole. However, the A.S.A.,
    or the individual A.S.A. organisations, should not become funding
    bodies with responsibility for allocation of funding.

{   Developing strategic projects for the sector as a whole. Although
    each A.S.A. organisation will continue to develop strategic pilot
    projects for their members to meet identified needs, it is hoped that as
    the A.S.A. develops, the members will reach a stage where they feel
    able to minimise duplication. It is also recommended that A.S.A.
    organisations work together to develop regional projects for the
    sector as a whole in response to needs. This has already been
    evidenced in the Welfare Reform Project and the Community
    Housing Advisory Project.

{   Facilitating the implementation of the D.S.D. Advice and
    Information Strategy for N.I. It is acknowledged that the A.S.A.,
    in conjunction with D.S.D., will have a facilitating role in ensuring
    the delivery of the 10 year Advice and Information Strategy and that
    it is appropriately adapted to reflect any factors which will impact on
    its delivery over the time scale. A.S.A. organisations will also


                          Williamson Consulting
                             July 2005 Draft                                  64




        support providers and be involved in the monitoring of the delivery
        of the Strategy (with D.S.D.).

4.3.4   In summary, the A.S.A. will not be an operational body as
        such, rather it will, when appropriate, facilitate a joint approach
        to issues which affect the advice sector as a whole.
        Furthermore, it will not be a funding body for the sector.




                            Williamson Consulting
                                 July 2005 Draft                                 65




4.4       Quality Standards


4.4.1     Quality standards had been developed approximately 10 years
          ago by the Advice Services Alliance. These were recently
          reviewed and amended by the A.S.A. for a review of Advice
          Service provision in Derry City Council. As part of this Strategy
          it has been recommended that the Advice Services Alliance
          re-examine and update these quality standards and guidelines
          for advice providers. It is anticipated that any new standards
          will cover the following issues.

      {   Ensuring independence from public, statutory, private and political
          bodies

      {   Ensure appropriate management structures and procedures, including:

          •   a fully representative management committee with appropriate
              skills which meets quarterly and holds A.G.M.
          •   appropriate documentation such as Annual Reports, Accounts,
              Constitution
          •   appropriate staff management procedures and systems (contracts
              of employment, job descriptions for staff and volunteers, staff
              supervision and appraisal systems)

      {   Appropriate premises

          •   easily accessed by public transport
          •   appropriate accessibility for those with mobility problems
          •   meets relevant Health and Safety requirements
          •   an adequate number of private interview rooms,
              reception/waiting area, office space for meetings/administrative
              work, toilet/kitchen facilities
          •   confidential storage
          •   appropriate number of telephone lines, answering machine,
              access to Internet and E-mail facilities, fax and photocopier
          •   appropriate opening hours
          •   appropriate outreach facilities

      {   Appropriate use of I.T. for case recording

                               Williamson Consulting
                          July 2005 Draft                                66




{   Systems for ensuring staff are kept updated about issues affecting
    advice work

{   Insurance cover

{   Client confidentiality clauses

{   Membership of Citizens Advice, Advice N.I., Law Centre

{   Client feedback procedures

{   Appropriately trained advice staff

    •   minimum - Basic Certificate in Welfare Rights or equivalent.
    •   if money/debt, or appeal/tribunal work is undertaken, evidence
        that staff are appropriately trained to deliver.
    •   trained in use of I.T. systems for advice work
    •   training relating to needs of particular user groups
    •   updating training on issues affecting the sector




                          Williamson Consulting
                               July 2005 Draft                                  67




4.5       Satellites, Outreach and E Access


4.5.1     To ensure maximum accessibility of advice services at a local
          level, it is necessary to have a range of other means of getting
          to those who may have difficulty travelling. While the primary
          generalist hubs may be reasonably accessible to those living in
          more densely populated areas it has to be accepted that these
          cannot be easily accessible to everyone. For this reason,
          other means of making provision accessible needs to be found.
          It would clearly be impractical to have a permanent advice
          provision in a location which is central to a very small
          population however, the quality considerations make it
          necessary to make such provision available on an occasional
          basis at least. These alternative forms of outreach and
          satellite provision, coupled with use of new technology, will
          seek to ensure that everyone living in Northern Ireland will be
          easily able to access advice provision.


4.5.2     All forms of outreach, satellite and community based E-Access
          provision must work collaboratively, or as part of the hub
          structure for it to be effective. This means that there must be
          suitable mechanisms for updating information, providing
          training and counselling support to advisory staff and for
          administrative support. Such provision is likely to take a
          number of forms:

      {   Outreach provision in specific community based locations at a
          very local level, including half-day sessions in community centres,
          doctors’ surgeries, etc.

      {   Outreach provision on an occasional basis such as advice clinics,
          promotional events, etc. in community centres, leisure centres,
          schools and other public locations.

      {   Outreach home visits to those who are unable to access advice
          through infirmity.

      {   Part-time satellite provision such as a two day per week facility
          with a part-time advisor located in an area of high demand.

      {   The provision of I.T. based community E access points. These
          might be single computers within a community centre or community

                              Williamson Consulting
                              July 2005 Draft                                     68




        based organisation’s premises linked by broad-band access to the
        hubs and to a central point. They could provide access to a range of
        information and, through interactive technology, could also provide
        access to basic advice depending on individual specific
        circumstances. They in turn could provide a mechanism to alert
        advisors to the need for face to face advice and could perhaps offer
        e-mail advice, as long as this was appropriately password protected to
        ensure confidentiality. Collectively, these mechanisms could filter
        out basic advice needs that could be easily dealt with and could
        increase advisors’ access to a wide range of people in a cost effective
        manner. Ideally, a volunteer or community worker might be given
        some training to assist people to use the E-Access system, however
        this should be very user friendly.

4.5.3   All satellite, outreach and E-Access provision should be directly
        linked to the primary generalist hub in the area. Whether this
        is provided by the hub, or by an independent organisation
        working collaboratively with the hub, is unimportant. What is
        essential is that the relationships between both are good so
        that referral mechanisms work effectively, quality standards are
        maintained, appropriate training and support is given to
        outreach/satellite advisors and that the service is seamless.




                             Williamson Consulting
                                July 2005 Draft                                     69




4.6       Stakeholders

          The main stakeholders include:

      {   The Voluntary and Community Unit (V.C.U.) within D.S.D. has
          policy responsibility for the advice sector and, on behalf of central
          Government, allocates resources for the advice sector to local
          Councils through the Community Support process.

      {   Councils have responsibility for assessing the need for advice
          services within their area and for allocating resources to local advice
          services. Advice Services should be included within Council
          Community Support Plans as advised by V.C.U. Councils receive
          funding from V.C.U. for advice services, within their Community
          Support funding from V.C.U. This is supplemented, at a variable
          rate of 30 - 80%, by Council rate support grant, as agreed by the
          relevant Council Committees.

      {   Other Government Departments provide support to the advice sector,
          including financial support. This is usually on the basis that some
          elements of advice work may fall within Departmental remits, or on
          the basis that the advice sector may help Departments to achieve their
          own aims, objectives, targets (i.e., in line with Partners for Change)

      {   Other funders, including The Community Foundation, Community
          Fund, European funders/Intermediary Funding Bodies, Charitable
          Trusts and private funders provide additional financial support to the
          advice sector. This is usually on the basis that certain advice work
          matches their funding priorities.

      {   The Advice Services Alliance provides support to the sector and acts
          as a conduit between Government (this includes collectively
          campaigning and lobbying on policy and legislation issues which
          impact on the sector, and facilitating policy consultation within the
          sector). A.S.A. has a responsibility to ensure appropriate quality
          standards are adopted by advice providers.

      {   Advice Providers. These include generalist advice providers,
          outreach/satellite providers and specialist providers (including
          regional voluntary organisations).

          •   Primary Generalist Providers (Area Hubs) - Core Advice
              Providers. Generalist advice providers which cover a wide range
              of advice and information needs. These include: benefits,
                               Williamson Consulting
                      July 2005 Draft                                    70




    consumer, employment, housing, money and debt, health and
    disability, tribunal representation, basic immigration, etc. These
    should meet agreed quality standards.
•   Outreach/Satellite (very local). Provide a basic level of those
    issues outlined in Primary Generalist Providers/hubs at a more
    local level to ensure access for target groups, etc.
•   Regional Voluntary Organisations. Provide advice and
    information to specific target groups, or provide advice and
    information on specific issues (generally more complex).




                     Williamson Consulting
                                July 2005 Draft                                    71




4.7       Involvement of others and interfaces


4.7.1     The delivery of the Advice and Information Strategy will depend
          on effective working relationships between all stakeholders.

      {   D.S.D. needs to:

          •   work with the A.S.A. and Councils in delivering the Strategy
          •   work with Councils and A.S.A. on measuring the impacts of
              local advice provision and ensuring effective, efficient delivery
              of advice services
          •   work with the A.S.A. and Councils to effectively lobby other
              Departments for funding for the advice sector

      {   Councils need to:

          •   assess need for advice provision in their area - needs, gaps,
              shortfalls (working with providers, and in some cases A.S.A.)
          •   work with D.S.D. on measuring the impacts of advice work and
              establish appropriate monitoring and measuring systems (in
              agreement with the A.S.A. and D.S.D.)
          •   work with D.S.D. and the A.S.A. to effectively lobby other
              Departments for funding for the advice sector
          •   work with other Government Departments and Funders to ensure
              that their plans to fund/support the advice sector match local
              identified needs and build on existing provision/structures,
              minimising duplication and maximising the impacts of such
              funding.

      {   Other Government Departments and other funders need to:

          •   refer to the Strategy in relation to any decisions to fund/support
              parts of the advice sector in response to identified needs
          •   communicate with relevant local Councils on any decisions to
              fund/support parts of the advice sector in response to identified
              needs, to ensure that this fits with local advice needs and advice
              sector structures
          •   communicate with D.S.D. and the A.S.A. in relation to any
              plans/policy changes they have which will impact on the advice
              sector, with a view to considering how these would best be


                               Williamson Consulting
                           July 2005 Draft                                    72




        implemented taking into consideration the needs of the advice
        sector.

{   The A.S.A. needs to:

    •   agree appropriate quality standards and ensure advice providers
        meet these
    •   ensure resources for supporting the sector are used most
        efficiently
    •   work with D.S.D. and Councils to lobby for additional resources
        for the sector
    •   provide support to advice providers
    •   work with providers to lobby on behalf of their needs/concerns
    •   work with providers and Councils to identify
        needs/gaps/shortfalls

{   Primary Generalist and Satellite/Outreach providers need to:

    •   ensure that they maintain appropriate quality standards
    •   work together more collaboratively to ensure that all needs are
        met in the most efficient manner, avoiding duplication. This is
        likely to involve encouraging referral among each other where
        appropriate and developing the skills necessary to deliver advice
        to all sections of the community.
    •   work with the A.S.A. and Councils to identify
        need/gaps/shortfalls

{   Regional voluntary organisations need to:

    •   work with providers strategically to ensure they have the skills to
        deliver services to best meet the needs of particular groups within
        society which they serve
    •   work with providers to access those who are most difficult to
        reach
    •   work with providers and A.S.A. on relevant
        lobbying/campaigning work
    •   take referrals from advice providers in complex cases where
        specific skills are required to deal with the enquiry
    •   make referrals to advice providers in cases where they can
        address the issue/concern in question (to avoid duplication)


                           Williamson Consulting
                                July 2005 Draft                                 73




4.8       Resource Plan


4.8.1     Currently the local advice sector (i.e., Citizens’ Advice Bureaux
          and local independent advice providers) has an annual funding
          requirement of over £4 million. These figures do not include
          the cost of running the regional support organisations of Advice
          N.I., Citizens’ Advice and the Law Centre, or any of the
          specialist regional bodies.       As stated in section 2.3.2,
          approximately £1.8 million - £2 million of funding for local
          advice provision comes from local Councils, including funding
          received from the Voluntary and Community Unit through
          community support budgets. While Council’s contribution
          probably accounts for around 60% of the total local advice
          funding, the amount of funding from each Council varies
          considerably, with the higher spending Councils contributing
          over £2 per capita. If all Councils were to contribute at this rate
          the core funding available for local advice services would be
          around £3.3 million. Of the other funding for local provision,
          the only element that is likely to be sustainable in the longer
          term is funding obtained through Health and Social Services
          Trusts. This currently amounts to £0.5 million to £0.6 million.
          It is therefore reasonable to assume that the advice sector can
          expect to sustain local funding of £2.3 million to £2.6 million per
          annum, excluding one-off and short-term funding, which
          currently contributes up to £1.5 million per annum.
          Realistically, the amount of funding that is currently sustainable
          would not maintain the local advice sector in its current state.
          As we have seen, there is a shortage of resources and
          reducing funding to this level would mean that a significant
          number of those who most need advice would not have easy
          access to this. Clearly, producing a more efficient structure
          would go some way to addressing this problem, however it is
          apparent that the sector needs to attract additional resources.


4.8.2     In considering future resourcing of the local advice sector a
          number of key principles might be applied:

      {   Government Departments and other bodies whose policies impact on
          the need for advice provision should consider if there is a need to
          utilise and resource external provision to meet this need.

      {   Advice provision should be free at point of access.


                               Williamson Consulting
                              July 2005 Draft                                     74




    {   Advice must be accessible to those who most need it.


4.8.3   If the last two principles are to achieved, it will be necessary for
        the local advice sector to attract at least £3.5 million to £4
        million of sustainable ongoing funding.                While it is
        acknowledged that different types of enquiries have different
        costs, we can make a crude link between the level of enquiry
        by issue at a local level and the approximate cost of this at
        present. This is as follows:

    {   Benefit advice - approximately £2.2 million per annum

    {   Consumer advice - approximately £320,000 per annum

    {   Money and debt advice - approximately £0.25 million per annum
        (although this is increasing rapidly)

    {   Housing advice - approximately £0.25 million per annum

    {   Other forms of advice - approximately £1 million per annum


4.8.4   Where it is identified that a Government policy or procedure
        has a direct impact on the work of the voluntary advice sector,
        it is the responsibility of the specific business area to consider
        what relationship it might have with the external providers and
        if it should contribute to resourcing this work. For instance:

    {   The process of carrying out a Regulatory Impact Assessment on any
        new Government policy should take into consideration the full cost
        of implementing the policy. Effectively therefore, if the introduction
        of a complex benefit form means that many of those who are entitled
        to such a benefit have to seek support from an advice agency to
        complete this, the cost of this additional support could be built into
        the cost of implementing the policy. Consequently, better policy
        decisions would be made if there was a direct link between the
        agency with responsibility for developing such forms and the funding
        of advice to make if possible for the general public to complete these.


    {   Similarly, financial institutions which make it possible for people to
        achieve unsustainable levels of debt should also be responsible for
        the consequences of this. It would therefore be reasonable for
        financial institutions to pay for money and debt advice, perhaps
                             Williamson Consulting
                              July 2005 Draft                                      75




        through a self-imposed or mandatory levy on borrowing. This may
        require a high level of political lobbying in order to be realised.

4.8.5   As indicated earlier in the strategy, each of these elements
        must form a part of generalist advice provision, however
        providing a comprehensive service will require appropriate
        resources.


4.8.6   Absolute Minimum Provision - The proposed primary
        generalist hub structure, coupled with a range of means of
        getting to people at a very local level where transport/mobility
        is an issue, will seek to ensure that those who most need
        advice and support have access to it. The structure will also
        ensure that expertise exists to address a wide range of
        specialist and complex issues at a local level. Ideally the
        sector requires around £4 million of sustainable funding on an
        annual basis (excluding A.S.A. organisations’ core costs), to
        provide advice at anticipated levels. However, it is recognised
        that this may take some time to achieve. The following table
        sets out the minimum level of provision required to put in place
        the new structure, however it should be noted that a higher
        level of provision would be desirable. It assumes that:

    {   There would be 10 to 15 primary generalist hubs employing between
        4 and 6 advisors (depending on the population serviced) and
        incorporating appropriate levels of administration and resources.
        These would have a cost of £100,000 to £150,000 per annum each.

    {   Each hub would relate to a range of outreach/satellite provision
        relevant to the individual local area, with a further cost of £80,000 to
        £100,000 per hub area.

    {   50 to 75 community based E-Access points would be established
        across Northern Ireland and would have an average maintenance cost
        of £1,000 per annum each. Further consideration needs to be given
        to how this could/should be structured in the long term to account for
        ongoing maintenance/support.

    {   In addition to the established role of the three A.S.A. organisations,
        regional voluntary organisations will have an important role to play
        in advising on quality standards and in providing training for hub
        based staff with a particular specialism. It is assumed that there


                              Williamson Consulting
                               July 2005 Draft                                    76




        would be a cost of £10,000 per hub per annum to support this training
        work.

        Minimum Provision


        Element                                   Capital         Recurrent
                                                                     p.a.
        Primary Generalist Hubs (10 - 15)     £200k. - £300k.       £1.5m.
        Outreach/Satellite                                       £1m. - £1.2m.
        Community Based E-Access              £100k. - £120k.    £50k. - £75k.
        Regional Vol. Orgs. (exc. A.S.A.)                       £100k. - £150k.
        Total Cost (exc. A.S.A. orgs)         £300k. - £420k.   £2.7m. - £2.9m.


4.8.7   Preferred Provision - An analysis of current demand and the
        likelihood of an increasing demand for certain types of advice,
        such as money and debt work, would suggest that a more
        comprehensive provision is required. It is recognised that it
        may take some time to attract ongoing resources to fund this
        however the cost of this is set out in the following table. It
        assumes:

    {   That the primary generalist hubs are larger, employing 6 to 8 advisors
        plus administrative staff in each hub.

    {   That £150,000 to £200,000 per annum is spent in providing
        outreach/satellite provision in each hub area.

    {   Other elements remain the same.

        Ultimate Provision


        Element                                   Capital         Recurrent
                                                                     p.a.
        Primary Generalist Hubs (10 - 15)     £200k. - £300k.   £2m. - £2.25m.
        Outreach/Satellite                                      £2m. - £2.25m.
        Community Based E-Access              £100k. - £120k.    £50k. - £75k.
        Regional Vol. Orgs. (exc. A.S.A.)                       £100k. - £150k.
        Total Cost (exc. A.S.A. orgs)         £300k. - £420k.   £4.1m. - £4.7m.


4.8.8   In addition to annual running costs, it is realistic to recognise
        that there will be some capital costs associated with putting the
                              Williamson Consulting
                            July 2005 Draft                                 77




        new structures in place. While in some cases, the primary
        generalist hubs will grow from existing provision which may
        already be well equipped, we have assumed that there may be
        a cost of around £20,000 per hub to allow for additional
        premises modification, computer equipment, etc.             The
        established of community based E-Access points will require
        the purchase of computers for each location and the
        establishment of broad band communications with the hubs
        and a central point. In addition, there will inevitably be some
        software development requirements. It is assumed that each
        E-Access point will have a capital cost of around £1,000 and
        that around £50,000 will be required to develop appropriate
        software. This should be able to build on existing I.T. systems
        and information mechanisms.


4.8.9   As we have seen in earlier sections, there is currently ongoing
        sustainable funding of £2.3 million to £2.6 million per annum,
        from Councils, V.C.U. and Health and Social Services Trusts.
        This would largely go to support the minimum provision as
        indicated in the previous section. Achieving the ultimate
        provision would require ongoing sustainable funding of £4
        million to £4.5 million. Obviously considerable work will need
        to be done to generate this additional £1.5 million per annum.
        This should be viewed in the context of wider pressures on
        public expenditure and competing priorities in other
        departments. Recognising the importance of making a link
        between paying for advice and creating the need for it, there
        are some obvious potential sources of such funding. It would
        be reasonable for the financial sector to contribute £0.25
        million to £0.5 million per annum towards money and debt
        counselling. Currently there is no mechanism for this to
        happen however, this amount of money is comparatively small
        in terms of the overall level of debt in Northern Ireland and
        ways should be found to generate this.


4.8.10 A number of public sector bodies have played a part in funding
       specific advice projects in recent times. Currently D.E.T.I.
       holds responsibility for consumer advice. The Consumer-line
       does provide information, and a modest level of advice, to
       consumers however, more in-depth advice and advocacy is
       also provided by advice providers at a local level, especially for
       those who are not particularly able to benefit from the support
       provided by Consumer-line. D.E.T.I. has offered to contribute
       funding over the next two years to support the work of advice
                            Williamson Consulting
                             July 2005 Draft                                 78




        providers however, longer term funding for this role needs to
        be sourced. The Social Security Agency has also been
        involved in supporting the sector on a one off basis to facilitate
        the implementation of welfare reform. Inland Revenue has
        contributed modest amounts of money to look at specific
        projects and has formed a closer working relationship with the
        sector. While some of this funding is geared to specific time
        bound needs, some ongoing issues supported through such
        mechanisms need long term funding.


4.8.11 To achieve the objectives set out in section 3.5, in addition to
       core funding the three A.S.A. organisations, the following
       sustainable annual resources will need to be found:

    {   By 2006 - £2.5 million per annum

    {   By 2009 - £3.4 million per annum

    {   By 2014 - £4 million to £4.5 million per annum


4.8.12 It is also probable that implementation of the strategy will have
       some short term implications for V.C.U.            The unit will
       undoubtedly incur some costs in recruiting and engaging an
       independent chairperson for the A.S.A. The implementation of
       the strategy, at least in the early stages, will also raise some
       staffing issues for the unit, both from a co-ordination and
       monitoring perspective. In particular, the process of assisting
       Councils to adapt to new structures and to make appropriate
       funding decisions will require input from V.C.U. There is also
       an important role for the unit in terms of co-ordinating action,
       and      improving    communication     between      Government
       departments and agencies and other bodies involved in
       funding advice provision. All of this work perhaps suggests
       that an additional post will be required in the short to medium
       term.




                            Williamson Consulting
                               July 2005 Draft                                    79




4.9       Source Materials

      {   N.I.C.V.A. Policy Manifesto

      {   A Consumer Strategy for N.I. - D.E.T.I.

      {   Draft Protocols between the S.S.A. and the Voluntary Advice Giving
          Sector

      {   Money Advice Provision in N.I. - a Draft Report for D.E.T.I.

      {   Community Legal Service Consultation              Paper    1999     -
          Information/Advice/Assistance Framework

      {   C.A.B. Quality Assurance Standards and Membership Agreement

      {   S.S.A. Customer Charter

      {   Benefits for All - June 2003, S.S.A. and Advice Services Alliance

      {   Quality Standards for Advice Services - an Audit, Advice Services
          Alliance U.K., 2000

      {   Advice Services in N.I., 2000 and Beyond - General Consumer
          Council

      {   Advice Services in N.I. - A report for the Lord Chancellor’s Legal
          Aid Advisory Committee for N.I. - Lundy and Glen, June 1999

      {   Throwing a Lifeline - Advice Services in N.I. (Derek Alcorn)

      {   Good Practice in Planning for Advice - A Briefing Note, Association
          of London Government

      {   Social Exclusion - Is Advice a Solution - A Discussion Paper,
          L.A.S.A., 1999

      {   Legal and Advice Services - A pathway out of Social Exclusion - the
          Lord Chancellors Department and the Law Centres Federation,

      {   Legal Services Commission Website



                               Williamson Consulting
                          July 2005 Draft                                  80




{   Pathways for Change - A position paper by the Taskforce on
    Resourcing the Voluntary and Community Sector, December 2003.

{   S.S.A. Business Plan - The Year Ahead 2003-2004

{   State of the Sector 2 - N.I.C.V.A.

{   Advice N.I. Membership Profile

{   Pension Credit - Your Experiences of the first 60 days - Advice N.I.
    report, February 2004

{   Just Ask.org

{   Lasa Website

{   Rightsnet

{   Greater Belfast Advice Services Strategy Report, March 2000

{   North Belfast Advice Consortium - addressing local needs

{   Targeting Need, Serving the Community, Independent Advice
    Provision in the North West - a report on the work of Advice N.I.
    members in the Derry City Council area, December 2000




                         Williamson Consulting
                                 July 2005 Draft                                             81




4.10   Background Statistics


4.10.1 Overview of Information From Providers

       Funding Sources 2002-2003 - Based on returns from Advice
       providers (as at 23 February 2004)

       There are 63 generalist advice providers across N.I. (known to
       the consultants at the time of the review). Questionnaire
       returns were received from 31 generalist advice providers.
       The information in column 2 in the table below relates to the
       total actual amounts received by advice providers from each
       funding source as recorded by them in the questionnaires, for
       the year 2002/03. Column 3 provides an average amount per
       provider. Column 4 provides an indication of the extrapolated
       total amount from each funder for all 63 providers (average
       amount per provider multiplied by 63).

                   1                    2                    3                  4
        Funding Source             Amount             Ave. per advice   Extrapolated total
                 (£’s)        (based on 31 returns)      provider
        Council                     803,104               25,906            1,632,078
        H.S.S.T.                    273,066                8,808             554,904
        Lottery                     297,921                9,610             605,430
        B.R.O./N.W.D.O.             179,381                5,786             364,518
        E.U.                        204,569                6,599             415,737
        Charitable Trusts           116,040                3,743             235,809
        Private                       2,547                 82                5,166
        Donations/Fundraising        33,278                1,073             67,599
        Other                       287,003                9,258             583,254
        Total                      2,196,909              70,868            4,464,684


       18 Council Questionnaires were returned. These indicated that
       the 18 Councils collectively contributed £1,288,932 to advice
       services (approximately 23% of which was money obtained
       from V.C.U. for Community Support). The figure of £1,288,932
       equates to an average of £71,607 per Council.

       It must be acknowledged that the range between the highest
       contribution and the lowest contribution is substantial. The
       contribution per head of population from Councils ranges from
       £0.37 to £2.11, with an average of £0.98.


                                Williamson Consulting
                              July 2005 Draft                                     82




4.11    Establishment of Hub and Satellites


4.11.1 The establishment of new hub and satellite structures will
       inevitably require substantial change at some levels. It is
       essential that such changes are put in place in a way which
       incorporates the best we currently have and does not result in
       loss of provision to those who are most in need of such
       services. The map of Northern Ireland shows areas which are
       difficult to service for a range of reasons. For instance, largely
       rural areas and a poor transport infrastructure makes it difficult
       to meet needs in these areas. Similarly, in urban areas which
       are defined by sectarian or single identity boundaries, where
       transport runs radially and where expectations of access are
       very high, each of these issues needs to be addressed in new
       provision.


4.11.2 While a hub and satellite structure is intrinsically simple, new
       structures will need to build on existing provision which
       inevitably incorporates a range of providers with differing
       systems, loyalties and ethos. In some areas provision is
       extensive, while in others this can be in short supply. In some
       areas, providers will not make comfortable partners and some
       work may need to be done to build relationships. This is likely
       to be particularly so in areas where provision is well developed
       and extensive.


4.11.3 Certain factors need to be borne in mind in establishing the
       hub and satellite structure. These include:

    {   There needs to be an excellent relationship and communication
        mechanisms between the hub, satellite structures and regional bodies.

    {   In some areas satellites may operate as out centres of the hub and
        may be run by the same organisation.

    {   In other areas satellites may be operated by different organisations
        than the hub. Organisations taking on this role may currently be
        affiliated to different regional bodies. By implication, they currently
        operate different systems and have a different ethos. In such
        circumstances, making the local structure work may require more
        action to reconcile working methods, loyalties and communication.

                             Williamson Consulting
                              July 2005 Draft                                     83




4.11.4 It is proposed that a pilot hub be established within the next
       year to provide learning which will facilitate preparation of
       detailed action plans leading to the introduction of the full hub
       and satellite structure. To maximise the learning experiences
       from this pilot, it is desirable that this should include:

    {   A hub which incorporates an existing organisation which is currently
        well-equipped to offer the full range of provision anticipated within a
        hub structure

    {   Satellites utilising existing smaller advice providers, which are
        currently not connected to the “hub” organisation and ideally are
        affiliated to a different regional A.S.A. organisation.

    {   Availability of a limited number of well resourced community-based
        organisations in appropriate locations that can, and are willing to,
        accommodate the establishment of E-access points

    {   The three A.S.A. organisations must be involved in establishing the
        hub. Ideally there should be agreement on the systems used by the
        hub, including its I.T. systems, protocols for referrals and its
        communication procedures with satellites and regional voluntary
        organisations

    {   The Regional Voluntary Advisory Group set up to incorporate the
        views and expertise of voluntary organisations which address the
        needs of specialised groups should be involved in developing
        appropriate standards for addressing specific clients’ needs for more
        specialised areas of advice, and for preparing the referral protocols.

    {   The hub and satellite pilot should be reviewed on a three monthly
        basis by the A.S.A. and the Regional Voluntary Advisory Group. A
        more detailed evaluation should be undertaken after one year and
        should form the basis for a detailed implementation plan for the
        remaining hub and satellite structure across Northern Ireland.

    {   Councils and advice providers should be provided with a three
        monthly update on the pilot to enable them to plan for change in their
        areas.




                             Williamson Consulting
                              July 2005 Draft                                     84




4.12   Benefits to Advice Users


4.12.1 The proposals set out within this strategy are geared to
       achieving a number of positive outcomes:

   {   Maximising use of existing resources

   {   Facilitating an increase in the resources available to the advice sector

   {   Improving the quality of advice and advocacy provided

   {   More consistent provision of advice across Northern Ireland and
       within Council areas

   {   Better access to advice by those who most need it

   {   More consistent approach to advice by funders at local and regional
       level

4.12.2 Specific benefits for those who use advice services are
       expected to include:

   {   Easier and more rapid access to general advice provision:

       •   more people will live closer to advice satellites
       •   advice locations will be on main transport routes
       •   increased E-access and better use of new user friendly
           technology
       •   more ways of accessing advice

   {   Better specialised or high level advice

       •   consistent availability of specialised advice in each Council area
       •   locally based advisors (within hubs) who understand the issues
           faced by people with specific needs
       •   excellent links and referral mechanisms between local satellites
           and hubs
       •   access to the best help available, through simplified and rapid
           referrals from local providers to regional specialist advice

                             Williamson Consulting
                          July 2005 Draft                                    85




{   More consistent quality

    •   standardised quality measures, established and monitored by the
        A.S.A.
    •   standardised recording and monitoring mechanisms and I.T.
        systems
    •   monitoring of specialist provision and staffing by expert regional
        voluntary organisations




                         Williamson Consulting
                            July 2005 Draft                          86




4.13    Consultation List

The following organisations were contacted during the consultation
work which preceded the preparation of the strategy. Those that
provided a detailed response, either in writing or by meeting or
telephone, are listed under the “responded” column.
Organisation                                        Responded
Government Departments/Agencies
D.A.R.D.                                                  Yes
D.C.A.L.                                                  Yes
D.E.
D.E.L.
D.E.T.I.                                                  Yes
D.H.S.S.P.S.                                              Yes
D.o.E.                                                    Yes
D.R.D.                                                    Yes
D.S.D.                                              Yes
O.F.M.D.F.M.                                              Yes
C.S.A.
N.I.H.E.                                                  Yes
S.S.A.                                                    Yes
Inland Revenue
Legal Services Commission                                 Yes

Health Boards and Trusts
E.H.S.S.B.
N.H.S.S.B.
S.H.S.S.B.
W.H.S.S.B.                                                Yes
Armagh & Dungannon H.S.S.T.                               Yes
Causeway H.S.S.T.                                         Yes
Craigavon & Banbridge H.S.S.T.                            Yes
Down and Lisburn H.S.S.T.                                 Yes
Foyle H.S.S.T.                                            Yes
Homefirst H.S.S.T.                                        Yes
Newry & Mourne H.S.S.T.                                   Yes
North and West Belfast H.S.S.T.                           Yes
Sperrin and Lakeland H.S.S.T.                             Yes
South and East Belfast H.S.S.T.                           Yes
U.C.H.T.
E.H.S.S.C.
N.H.S.S.C.                                                Yes
S.H.S.S.C.                                                Yes
W.H.S.S.C.                                                Yes

                            Williamson Consulting
                           July 2005 Draft               87




Councils
Antrim Borough Council
Ards Borough Council
Armagh City & District Council                     Yes
Ballymena Borough Council                          Yes
Ballymoney Borough Council
Banbridge District Council                         Yes
Belfast City Council                               Yes
Carrickfergus Borough Council
Castlereagh Borough Council
Coleraine Borough Council                          Yes
Cookstown District Council                         Yes
Craigavon Borough Council                          Yes
Derry City Council                                 Yes
Down District Council                              Yes
Dungannon & S. Tyrone Borough Council
Fermanagh District Council                         Yes
Larne Borough Council
Limavady Borough Council                           Yes
Lisburn City Council                               Yes
Magherafelt District Council
Moyle District Council                             Yes
Newry & Mourne District Council                    Yes
Newtownabbey Borough Council                       Yes
North Down Borough Council                         Yes
Omagh District Council                             Yes
Strabane District Council                          Yes

Citizens' Advice Bureaux
Antrim C.A.B.
Antrim Road C.A.B.
Ards C.A.B.
Armagh C.A.B.                                      Yes
Ballymena C.A.B.
Banbridge C.A.B.
Bangor C.A.B.                                      Yes
Carrickfergus C.A.B.                               Yes
Central Belfast C.A.B.
Coleraine C.A.B.                                   Yes
Cookstown C.A.B.
Down District C.A.B.                               Yes
Dungannon C.A.B.                                   Yes
East Belfast C.A.B.
Falls C.A.B.
Fermanagh C.A.B.                                   Yes
Glengormley C.A.B.                                 Yes
                           Williamson Consulting
                           July 2005 Draft               88




Holywood C.A.B.
Larne C.A.B.                                       Yes
Lisburn C.A.B.                                     Yes
Londonderry C.A.B.                                 Yes
Lurgan C.A.B.
Newry and Mourne C.A.B.
Portadown C.A.B.
Rathcoole C.A.B.                                   Yes
Shankill C.A.B.
Strabane C.A.B.
Suffolk & Andersonstown C.A.B.

Other Citizens' Advice Members
Action Cancer
Alzheimers Society
Belfast Carers Centre                              Yes
B.I. Housing Assoc.
British Deaf Assn.
Habinteg Housing Assn.
Habitat for Humanity
Nexus Institute                                    Yes
N.I. Federation of Housing Assns.                  Yes
Parents Advice Centre
R.N.I.B.
R.N.I.D.
Seafarers Benefits Advice Line
S.E.L.B. Information Service
South West Belfast Comm. Forum
N.I. Volunteer Development Agency
Women's Aid Helpline

Advice N.I. Members
Age Concern N.I.                                   Yes
Age Concern Castlederg
Age Concern Coleraine
Ardoyne Association
Ballysillan Comm. Forum Advice Serv.               Yes
Ballynafeigh Comm. Dev. Association                Yes
Benefit Uptake Campaign                            Yes
Belfast Unemployed Resource Centre
Chinese Welfare Assoc.                             Yes
Craigavon Independent Advice Centre                Yes
Civil Service Benevolent Fund                      Yes
Coleraine Women's Aid
Colin Comm. Groups Association
Cookstown & Western Shores Area Network
                           Williamson Consulting
                            July 2005 Draft                    89




Corpus Christi Services                            Yes
C.O.S.T.A.
Derry Community Social Services
Disability Action                                  Yes
Dungiven Community Resource Centre                 Yes
East Down Rural Community Network
East Belfast Independent Advice Centre             Yes
Enniskillen Community Devel. Project
E.P.I.C.
Falls Community Council                            Yes
Falls Women‘s Centre                                     Yes
First Housing and Support Services                 Yes
Fold Housing Association/Trust
Galliagh Integrated Advice Services                Yes
Gingerbread Derry
Gingerbread N.I.                                   Yes
Glenluce Quality Caring Centre
Greater Turf Lodge Residents Assoc.                Yes
Help the Aged                                      Yes
Hillcrest House                                    Yes
Housing Rights Service                             Yes
Limavady Comm. Devel. Initiative                   Yes
L.I.A.S.E.                                         Yes
Ligoneil Improvement Association                   Yes
Link Community Association                               Yes
Lisburn Welfare Rights Group                       Yes
Lower North Belfast Comm. Council                  Yes
Marrowbone Comm. Assn.
Mencap N.I.                                        Yes
M.S. Society
National Group on Homeworking
Neighbourhood Assist
Neighbourhood Development Association              Yes
New Life Comm. Action
Newry & Mourne Carers
Newry Welfare Rights Centre                        Yes
N.I.A.C.R.O.                                       Yes
N.I.C.E.M.                                         Yes
North Antrim Community Network
North Belfast Senior Citizens Forum                Yes
Northlands
N.U.S. - U.S.I.
Omagh Forum for Rural Associations
Omagh Independent Advice Services                        Yes
Rethink
R.O.S.A.
                           Williamson Consulting
                            July 2005 Draft               90




Rosemount Resource Centre                           Yes
Rural Support                                       Yes
Shelter N.I.                                        Yes
South Antrim Rural Network
Springfield Charitable Association                  Yes
STEER Mental Health Org.                            Yes
Tar Isteach
The Blind Centre for N.I.
The Churches Advice Centre                          Yes
The Nucleus
The Presbyterian Orphan & Children Soc.
The Resource Centre, Derry
Vine Centre                                         Yes
Wave Trauma Centre
Windsor Women‘s Centre                              Yes
Young Parents Advice & Info. Bureau

Advice N.I. Subscribers
Belfast Central Mission
Belfast Women‘s Aid
C.A.J.
Childcare N.I.
Children’s Law Centre                               Yes
Coalition on Sexual Orientation
Comm. Dev. and Health Network
Cookstown and Dungannon Women‘s Aid
Council for the Homeless
E.G.S.A.
Equality Commission N.I.
Foyle Friend
General Consumer Council
Greater West Belfast Comm. Assn.
Multicultural Resource Centre
N.E.A. N.I.
Network Personnel Ltd.
N.I. Anti Poverty Network
N.I. Human Rights Commission
N.I. Women‘s Aid Foundation                         Yes
N.I.P.S.A.
Organisation for the Unemployed
Probation Board for N.I.
Shelter N.I.
Women‘s Support Network
W.E.A.


                            Williamson Consulting
                              July 2005 Draft              91




Law Centre Members
Lurgan Indep. Advice & Info. Service
Strathfoyle Comm. Assn.                              Yes
Bogside & Brandywell Advice Centre                   Yes
Extern
Creggan Comm. Care
Simon Community N.I.
Consumer Advice Centre                               Yes

Other Organisations
Advice N.I.                                          Yes
Citizens' Advice                                     Yes
Law Centre N.I.                                      Yes
Office of the Social Fund Commissioner
I.C.T.U.
Human Rights Commission
Labour Relations Agency
N.I.A.M.H.
N.I. Youth Forum
Office of the Soc. Sec. Commissioners
F.I.A.C.
N.A.C.A.B.

Political Parties
Alliance Party
D.U.P.
P.U.P.
S.D.L.P.
Sinn Fein
Ulster Unionist Party
Women’s Coalition

Others
National Lottery Charities Board
S.E.U.P.B.
Community Foundation N.I.
Grant Thornton                                       Yes
Irish League of Credit Unions
Ulster Fed. of Credit Unions
Cons. Credit Counselling Serv.                       Yes
R.C.N.




                             Williamson Consulting
Williamson Consulting, 244 Kingsway, Dunmurry, Belfast, BT17 9AE
           Tel: (028) 9062 5511 Fax: (028) 9062 3635
              E mail: info@williamsonconsulting.co.uk

								
To top