The Quality Mark

The quality mark was originally designed as a passporting assessment for the Supporting People QAF, and has always been informed by those working in the sector.

The latest version of the quality mark, which was rolled out in June 2019, includes new objectives around DFG transformation (if applicable), consumer rights, and alternative dispute resolution. The documentation also now includes interactive links to example documents and on-line training resources, to ensure you get the most out of the assessment process.

To take account of the increased emphasis on information and advice provision in the Care Act, HIA Quality Mark now acts as a feeder qualification for onward progression to obtain the Advice Quality Standard (AQS)

Quality Mark

The QM covers ten key objectives of a Home Improvement Agency’s work

  • Objective 1: Minimum services from an HIA

The service should be holistic and offer a choice to clients

  • Objective 2: Assessment and support planning Clients’ needs (and any associated risks) are assessed to an appropriate degree.

Assessments are performed by skilled staff and involve other professionals and/or carers as appropriate

  • Objective 3: Duty of care to clients and staff

The security, health and safety of all individual clients, staff and the wider community are protected.

  • Objective 4: Fair access, diversity and inclusion

The service is accessible to all vulnerable persons needing the services on offer from the HIA

  • Objective 5: Privacy and confidentiality

The client’s privacy is respected and protected by the HIA

  • Objective 6: Listening to your Customers

The customer relationship is clear and information flows both ways.

  • Objective 7: Forward Planning and Finance

The service is well managed and has robust procedures in place

  • Objective 8: Staff are well trained, managed and involved in service planning
  • Objective 9: Case / File Management Policy Records are generated and stored securely
  • Objective 10: Governance and High-Level Strategy

Records are generated and stored securely

In order for agencies to demonstrate that they are achieving the 10 objectives they must provide evidence that they are undertaking specific activities and the impact of those activities.

Home Improvement Agencies who achieve the Quality Mark can enjoy many benefits from enhanced credibility and access to funding and other opportunities, to improved service delivery and stronger partnerships. All agencies who achieve the Quality Mark automatically receive a premium listing on FindmyHIA (Opens in a new window) and a prominent position in search results.

Home Improvement Agencies of any configuration – independent or in-house, large or small, rural or urban – can achieve accreditation; groups of agencies working in partnership can even go through the process together. Accreditation lasts for two years.

Hear from our clients

“The Foundations Quality Mark provided guidance and a clear structure to help us to audit current provision and identify potential areas for development. It has helped underline that we are providing robust, quality services across the whole of the Staying Put Agency. Obtaining the Quality mark has supported us in reassuring commissioners and helps inspire trust in clients, partners and stakeholders.” – Chris Thomson, Middlesbrough Staying Put

Advice Quality Standard (AQS)

What is the AQS?

The Advice Quality Standard (AQS) is an independently audited quality standard which is awarded to services delivering social welfare legal advice. The AQS is managed by the Advice Services Alliance who are fiercely proud of the role it plays in driving the development of access to social justice in this country. It is a standard which is owned and driven by the sector itself and yet is independent of any of the national advice networks or any individual funders or regulators.

An image of two advice quality standard booklets

The Advice Quality Standard is held by 700 separate local advice services across England and Wales and who provide advice on social welfare legal problems to a range of client groups; from the general public on a national helpline to specific and often disadvantaged communities within a locality.

What benefits do we get from holding the AQS?

Good, well run HIAs will provide good quality service to their clients regardless of their chose quality assurance process. So what are the added benefits of holding the AQS?

The Advice Quality Standard creates the right conditions for growing committed and supported practitioners, which is crucial to good advice. It provides assurance that advice is well delivered for advisers, managers, trustees, service users and funders as well as providing the common bond between different types of advice services serving different client groups.

Whilst it is possible for organisations who do not hold a quality standard to provide good advice, the Advice Quality Standard helps ensure organisations are well managed, which helps to ensure development, continual improvement and (most important in the current climate) sustainability.

The Advice Quality Standard (AQS) is the national quality standard for providers of information and advice services. This rigorous assessment will show how your service, be it a local authority based team, or a HIA, can provide safe and robust advice services in line with the Care Act.

For more information about the Advice Quality Standard, please contact Roy McNally.


There are many reasons organisations may want to apply for a quality standard, but we feel there are particular benefits to be gained from holding the AQS:

  • Assurance of qualityexternal validation that your service is working according to the best practice for your clients
  • Quality valuesDemonstrates that the quality of service delivered to clients is at the heart of our work and not an additional add-onWhen funding is tight, as it is now, this is more important than ever
  • Better client outcomesEvidence from other fields has shown that regardless of other factors, the outcomes for clients using a quality marked service are greater than the outcomes from those without
  • Better risk assessmentThe discipline of the AQS ensures that services are keeping on top of the main areas of riskKnowing about and anticipating risk is a key factor in service sustainability
  • Access to fundingMany funders like to see quality standards in place, some funders insist on it.The Advice Quality Standard is accredited by the Money Advice Service. Only services holding an accredited standard can apply for funding from the Money Advice Service
  • AccountabilityBoard of Trustees and senior management teams can use the report from the AQS to evidence good practice and to build a better understanding of the serviceCorrective actions and areas for improvement can help Trustees develop long term strategies and business plans
  • BenchmarkingAs one of 700 organisations which hold the AQS you have access to a range of organisations undertaking similar or comparable work to you
  • Opportunities for referralsAQS holders refer to other AQS as first choice as it is transparent on the quality of serviceMany partnerships have been built on the basis that the AQS is a common language across different services
  • Community of AQS practitionersThrough this website and through the other opportunities we provide, services have access to almost 700 other organisations in the same area of work