Information & Advice Quality Programme – common areas identified for improvement

Age UK’s Quality & Transformation Team have identified some common areas for improvement across the advice sector. Find the most recent trends below.

Age UK’s Quality & Transformation Team regularly review areas of compliance with the I&A Quality benchmarks, so that we can share learning across the network. We have found that the most common areas identified for improvement are similar to those identified across the independent advice sector as a whole and are important elements of quality assurance. Read on to view the most recent trends.

Most common areas of non-compliance for Quality of Advice

  • Lack of sufficient relevant information gathered to give correct advice
  • Insufficient advice recorded or incomplete advice given e.g. no means-tested benefits check when disability benefits awarded
  • Limited use of Factsheets and Information Guides to back up advice given
What can be done to avoid these?

Training in case-recording and/or the key Age UK topic areas of benefits and community care can help ensure your clients are getting the correct advice – further details can be found on the loop here.

Most common areas of non-compliance for Service Management

  1. Data Protection / Client confidentiality e.g. lack of consent or secure storage of client data
  2. Not recording sufficient client details for information enquiries (leading to under- reporting of work, clients needing to repeat their story on returning)
  3. Lack of Technical Supervision of advisors (usually of the Manager), including regular file checking to ensure accurate advice is given
  4. Lack of planning for a sustainable service
What can be done to avoid these?
  1. Ensure you have evidence of the clients’ consent to process their data, including to store it, share it with third parties, and share it with Age UK for quality audit. Ensure you record and date consent on the client record.

Please Note: legitimate interests as a basis for processing the data should not be used for special category data (i.e. personal sensitive data e.g. health, politics, ethnicity, religion). The ICO sets a higher bar for the way this data is handled, as it could create a higher risk of, for instance, unlawful discrimination. Consent is the best way to treat this type of data, as it is most transparent and simple.

The GDPR Toolkit on the loop can be found here.

  1. Ensure all staff providing I&A are aware of your procedures for recording information enquiries. This helps ensure the client does not have to keep repeating their “story”, and ensures you are not under-recording your work and reach. Enquiries should not routinely be recorded as “Anonymous” – only if consent is not given, or for very simple enquiries.
  2. Ensure you have procedures for both regularly checking the accuracy of advice and that your case management procedures are being followed, as well as the more in depth file reviews (IFRs) carried out less frequently. Ensure these include the advice carried out by the Supervisor or Manager). This is even more important when staff are working remotely or from home.
  3. Ensure the current year 12 month plan and budget is regularly reviewed. A short outline plan for the following 2 years is needed – it does not need to be in detail but should include an outline plan for a sustainable service.

Additional support newsletter from Stephens Scown

Stephens Scown have produced a newsletter to introduce the other services they offer to support the charity sector.

Stephens Scown, who offer the Age UK HR Express service, have put together a newsletter that describes the other areas of legal advice where they are able to offer support e.g. charity law, commercial real estate, business disputes, intellectual property and data protection. This support would be charged for. To find out more, please click here.

Are you ready for Phase Two of Making Tax Digital on 1 April 2021?

Phase Two of Making Tax Digital (MTD) for VAT goes live from 1 April 2021, Crowe LLP have a two-level offer of support which may be of interest to Partners.

Phase Two of Making Tax Digital (MTD) for VAT goes live from 1 April 2021. Feedback from Crowe UK LLP, our VAT Helpline Support Provider, indicates that many organisations are unclear about how the rules impact on them, and whether they will be compliant. They are seeing an increased appetite to review current VAT return processes and to provide recommendations on how organisations can be compliant with the new rules. To this end, they have pulled together the following two level offer (fees will be payable) which may be of interest to partners in the network who feel they need some additional help and support with this.

  1. A standard MTD review to check if there are any risks of non-compliance to the MTD rules, detailing specific rules which would apply to your circumstance and comments on simple solutions for digital links; and
  2. An enhanced MTD review, which will include a full remote review of the latest VAT return workings to identify specific areas where there is exposure to non-compliance of the MTD rules and consideration of alternative methods of preparing MTD compliant VAT returns.

Further details can be found in the document below:

Should you wish to discuss this proposal or if you have a general query about Making Tax Digital, please contact the Age UK VAT Helpdesk on 0207 842 7499 or

Please note: you are under no obligation to use Crowe UK LLP to undertake an MTD review. Our aim is to encourage the network to seek accredited professional advice as and where required to support them in this and other VAT matters.

DHSC Care Home Visiting Guidance

The Department of Health and Social Care has posted new guidance for care home visiting which you can view here.

The Department of Health and Social Care has published a new summary of guidance for care home visiting which you can view here. This guidance covers: single named visitors; essential care givers; advice for staff; and general visiting guidance. Age UK’s website has also been updated with this information, which you can view here.

Ethical Angel – potential business support for your organisation

Ethical Angel is a free virtual marketplace for organisations to receive expert support from a network of skilled professionals. Find out more.

Our corporate partner Barclays has let us know about Ethical Angel – a FREE, virtual marketplace for causes (charities, social enterprises, NGOs, NPOs and startups) to get expert support from a network of skilled professionals. Organisations can discover and ‘order’ project types suited to their needs and Ethical Angel then match them with ‘angels’ (business employees) who have the skills and passion to support them.

Angels are full time business employees who offer a range of specialist skills, knowledge and competencies which can benefit organisations. They can help to up-skill staff, complete one off projects which require their expertise or provide advice. Companies involved include M&S, Sony, Barclays, Fever-Tree and many more.

The causes they support include: good health & well being; reduced inequalities; ending poverty; innovation and infrastructure – so all things that we do as a network.

Click here to find out more.

Settled – a new signpost organisation for EU citizens wanting help to apply for Settled Status

Settled is a new charity who can offer advice and support to EU citizens who want to apply for Settled Status. Download their guidance and consent form here.

Following on from our email to CEOs asking if you could provide older European clients with information on the EU Settlement Scheme, we have been contacted by a new charity, called Settled, who can offer advice and support to EU citizens who want to apply for Settled Status. They have produced the leaflet below which explains more about this issue and contact details for how to get in touch with them.

PLEASE NOTE – the leaflet/consent form below is only for use by other third parties – local Age UK I&A advisers must not use this form to assist your clients or offer them advice with applying for Settled Status. This remains a regulated area of advice that you are not authorised to provide.

If you are in any doubt, contact the Age UK Email Enquiry Service on or speak to your Information and Advice Development Officer.

Further guidance for advisors is also available here

Download the leaflet and consent form below:

Do you have a supporters scheme? If so, Age UK Hillingdon, Harrow & Brent would like to hear from you!

Age UK HHB are keen to know what models other local Age UKs are currently using to ask people to make a commitment to support.

Age UK Hillingdon, Harrow & Brent is currently reviewing its ‘friends of’ model which it introduced in 2018, having previously had a membership approach. They are keen to know what models other local Age UKs are currently using (eg Friends, Members, etc etc) to ask people to make a commitment to support the organisation through activities such as fundraising, volunteering, campaigning or consultations etc.

If you’re happy to share what you’re doing, please contact Wendy Snelling, Community Fundraiser Age UK HHB – Direct Line: 0208 756 3068. Mobile 07562 437302

Book your place at the Virtual Finance Network Meeting

Age UK’s Financial Resilience Team are hosting a Virtual Finance Network meeting on 27th January. Find out how to book your place.

On Wednesday 27th January, we are hosting a Virtual Finance Network meeting (from 11:00 to 13:00) which will include a key presentation from Crowe UK LLP, a leading audit, tax, advisory and risk firm, which manages our Age UK VAT Helpline. Full details can be found in the article below. To book your place please email and

This meeting will cover a range of current VAT topics:

  • Business/non-business and partial exemption – the partial exemption year for 20/21 is going to be very different and VATable income will have taken a steep downward turn, reducing the overhead VAT recoverable.
  • Knowing when NOT to pay VAT on certain purchases
  • Paying deferred VAT – options and practicalities
  • Making Tax Digital – phase 2 roll out and much more. All businesses, even those voluntarily registered, will need to submit digitally from 2022

The meeting will also include the Network Infrastructure Programme where colleagues will share a brief update on their various key workstreams and other work in progress. In particular:

  • The new accounting system build with Age UK Coventry & Warwickshire, using Microsoft Dynamics Business Central with the Microsoft Partner, Total Enterprise Solutions (TES)
  • The Charitylog links to finance

Time permitting, there will also be an opportunity to raise other finance questions and share common challenges and good practice. If there are any other specific topics you would like to discuss on the day, please raise them prior to the meeting by email to and We will endeavour to accommodate them or to include them in the February meeting which will focus primarily on financial planning for 2021-22 and consider how to approach a potential ‘new normal’ (date yet to be agreed).

To book your place for the 27th January meeting and enable us to send you the meeting link, please email and

Microsoft Teams Training Opportunities

Microsoft have offered several training sessions for the Age UK Network to learn more about using Microsoft Teams. Find out how to join below.

We’re excited to offer exclusive Microsoft Teams training, run by Microsoft, to begin in February. Alongside colleagues at Age UK, this is a wonderful opportunity for all Brand Partners who use MS Teams to learn new skills directly from Microsoft. Microsoft Teams is one of the applications that form Microsoft’s Office 365 suite. So this training is specifically for Brand Partners who are using Teams, or plan to use Teams soon.

Please see the details of each session below. If you would like to attend a session, please save it in your calendar and use the links below to join the sessions (on the day). By clicking on the link, you will be sent directly to the training session.

Please see the details of each session below along with the link to join:

Tuesday 2nd Feb 2-3pm GMT – Teams 100

This session will cover the basics of Microsoft Teams. So if you do not feel confident using Teams, this session is for you. The session will cover navigating Teams, using chat, collaborating in Teams, calendar and meetings, making calls, sharing files and more.

Wednesday 3rd Feb 2-3pm GMT – Teams Live Events

Learn how to host and organise live events in Teams. You can use live events to run training sessions, host large meetings and more.

Thursday 4th Feb 2-3:30pm GMT – Teams 200

This session will help you raise your Teams skills to the next level. This session is designed to build on existing Teams knowledge and establish best practice and etiquette across available apps.  Additionally, this course will explore integration across Microsoft 365 in more depth than the beginner course and explore the end-to-end meeting journey.

Wednesday 17th Feb 2-3pm GMT – Teams 100
This session will cover the basics of Microsoft Teams. So if you do not feel confident using Teams, this session is for you. The session will cover navigating Teams, using chat, collaborating in Teams, calendar and meetings, making calls, sharing files and more.

Friday 19th Feb 2-3pm GMT – Breakout rooms

Attend this session to learn how to split meeting attendees into mini-groups during a meeting, and how to get the most out of this long-awaited new feature.

Calling all Partners that run a house clearance service!

Age UK Nottingham and Nottinghamshire are considering setting up a House Clearance service and would like to gather some advice from Partners.

Age UK Nottingham & Nottinghamshire is looking at potentially starting a House Clearance service and would like to ask Partners who already run such a service a few questions, to help them decide whether it is worth pursuing and explore some of the practicalities involved. Any information that you can share before the middle of January would be really useful.

Key questions they would like to ask include:

  • How many house clearance staff do you have, and on what type of contract (permanent or zero hours)?
  • Warehouse costs – what size?
  • Costs associated with the clearance – waste licences, additional costs for disposing of controlled substances (lead-based paint, old electrical equipment etc)?
  • Do you refuse to take anything, such as lead-based paint from garden sheds etc?
  • Is there a price range that you operate, depending on the size of the house/flat, number of outbuildings etc?
  • Do you need planning permission to sell from the warehouse site, or does your outlet have mixed use permission?
  • What does insurance cost per annum for house clearance?
  • On average, how many active weeks would you expect in a year, and how many clearances do you aim to do in a week?
  • What’s a reasonable profit margin to be made on the house clearance costs and does that include sale of any salvageable items?
  • When do you charge – deposit in advance, balance after the job, by invoice afterwards etc?

Ball park figure responses would be very helpful, so you wouldn’t need to share anything too business confidential.

If you are able to help, please contact:
Maria Cooke
Interim Innovation and Communications Director
Tel: 0115 841 4451