A summary of the network's purpose and how it will work.

Vision

Effective advice provision is available across Wales for all citizens.

Aims

  1. To develop and support the delivery of a Strategic Approach to the provision of social welfare advice services in Wales
  2. To work with advice providers, funders and other relevant stakeholders and service providers to achieve this vision
  3. To strengthen the alignment between welfare benefits, debt, housing and discrimination advice services with other advice related services
  4. To ensure that coordinated advice provision in Wales addresses the negative impacts of Welfare Reform and contributes to tackling poverty
  5. To engage effectively with Welsh Government and other funders of advice services to support the continued development of a strategic approach to information and advice in Wales.

Functions

The functions of the network will include:

  • Understanding the nature of the demand for advice services at a national and local level, now and in the future
  • Working with key stakeholders to identify any gaps in provision, at national or local level
  • Identifying opportunities for greater collaboration between providers, with the ultimate aim of improving the client’s experience and the quality and effectiveness of the advice provided
  • Sharing and disseminating good practice or developing innovative ways of providing advice
  • Influencing policy and processes to reduce demand for advice services
  • Promoting efforts to improve the overall quality of information and advice in Wales and to achieve greater consistency in terms of measuring outcomes across the advice sector
  • Setting a broad set of principles/guidelines for local or regional advice networks and maintaining a close working relationship with these networks, ideally through dedicated officers
  • Identifying new sources of funding and opportunities for streamlining of services
  • Identifying opportunities for collaborative bids for funding to create, support and improve sustainable front-line services
  • Supporting the implementation of the Welsh Government’s Information and Advice Action Plan, and annually monitoring progress against the plan
  • Providing advice to the Cabinet Secretary and Welsh Government on the provision of effective and sustainable advice services
  • Horizon scanning.

Code of conduct for members

Introduction

The National Advice Network recognises the contribution made by voluntary members to the network, the advice sector and potential service users in Wales.

The purpose of this code is to maintain high standards of conduct, assist members and to protect the best interests of the National Advice Network.

The network has a core membership which meets 4 times a year, and a wider membership which meets annually to review ongoing progress and to help to set priorities for future work.

Obligations of network members

The network expects that all members will support the Network’s objectives, aims and activities once these have been agreed.

The network will normally attempt to reach decisions by consensus.

Members are required to act only in the interests of the network and not on behalf of their employer, membership organisation or wider interest group, except for the 3 representatives elected to the network by the Independent Advice Providers Forum (IAPF) whose role is to represent the interests of information and advice providers. The experience and understanding that each network member brings from their own experience is highly valued and network members are not expected to act as representatives of any particular interest group, apart from the IAPF.

Core members are expected to attend 4 meetings of the network each year and to have read the papers which have been circulated prior to meetings so that they can contribute fully to meetings. Attendance may be in person or by video link. Substitutions will not be expected for the duration of the initial appointment and alternates may attend meetings only with prior agreement of the Chair.

Members of the wider network may be asked to contribute by email or to take part in task and finish working groups in addition to the annual Wider Network Meeting. All members are expected to take reasonable steps to ensure that they are aware of relevant developments of public policy and other issues which affect, or have the potential to affect, the work of the National Advice Network.

Other than in exceptional circumstances, all agenda items proposed by network members will be supported by a paper laying out the matter to be discussed and its possible outcomes. Members are expected to:

  • Listen, and respect the views of others
  • Seek positive and constructive resolution to those issues where differences in opinion exist
  • Respect the office of the Chair, to ensure the orderly conduct of meetings.

Declarations of interest

All members are expected to:

 Ensure that private or personal financial interests never influence their decisions
 Ensure that they do not use their position as a Network member for personal gain of any sort
 Disclose to the Secretariat any direct or indirect pecuniary or other interest which could influence judgment or give the impression that the network was acting to promote the members interests.

Confidentiality

Members should not pass any information gained through their membership of the network to a third party without the approval of the Chair or Secretariat. Papers which are for open circulation to the wider stakeholder group will be disseminated by the Secretariat and clearly marked.

Outside activities

Members should consider themselves at all times as being potentially regarded as ambassadors for the Network and should, therefore, ensure that none of their other activities has the effect of bringing the Network into disrepute.

Expenses claims

Welsh Government will reimburse members travel and subsistence costs for attending Network meetings on invoice which must be accompanied by receipts.

Current T&S rates are available from the Secretariat.