Frequently Asked Questions

Download a PDF copy of the FAQ here

What are we looking at? 

You can take the survey from the home page of to see the questions we are asking. Broadly, we are interested in the types of problems members of the public experience, what they do about them and where advice fits in. We are looking at the potential for developing new services, especially digital, and the validity of doing so. We are also interested in consequential costs to the state, local government and other bodies when people do not get timely advice. We are building on existing work around the links between advice and improving health, wellbeing and community cohesion

What is the catchment area of the survey?

The survey is set up to capture data from across the whole of the UK. It will be delivered primarily through a framework of regional advice networks eg Advice Services Transition Fund (ASTF) projects. However, the real opportunity lies in the wider network of organisations, groups, institutions, bodies and engaged individuals that are also participating on both the local and national stage. See a little more about catchment here:

What are the benefits of participating?

We have undertaken to provide participating ASTF projects, and other large established advice networks, with local and national survey data to use for their own purposes. This might be in developing eg local advice and legal support plans with local authorities, as evidence in funding bids, within business planning or in campaign work. You will also be taking part in the largest unique front-line service collaboration of those with an interest in the future of advice services in the UK in many years

Do I need to be an ASTF project to promote the survey?

Absolutely not, any organisation or group can get involved and be part of it. We say we are ‘partnering’ with ASTF projects as this makes the development and coordination of the survey more manageable and also gives us a clearer and more manageable relationship when we come to sharing the data (see below). Every organisation or group is very welcome to join in. Organisations and bodies promoting the survey will also be included in the final report. See the ‘join in’ link on the homepage:

What work is involved – how do I promote it?

As little or as much as you are able and, in any way you want. The more work you put into promoting it locally the more likely it will generate good local data and help the survey overall. You might include it on your website, circulate it to other groups in your area, promote it on social or in mainstream media, in your waiting rooms. Whatever makes sense to you. We have provided a full range of resources for you to use – hover your cursor over the ‘Promotion’ tab at the top of the homepage and help yourself:

Is it just an online survey?

It is built around an online survey as this makes it easier to collate and analyse responses. You are also encouraged to help those who would otherwise be unable to complete it eg those who are digitally excluded. In the New Year we will begin targeting particular sections of the community and commence focus groups to augment the online data. Please sign up to survey updates from the site home page so we can guide you through this and other actions you might take to help throughout the survey term

Who will get the data when it’s done?

Our starting point for this is that ASTF projects and advice networks that proactively promoted the survey will be offered the entire national dataset. We have now taken advice regarding compliance with both DPA and ICO requirements. The dataset will be offered subject to a data sharing and terms of use agreement. Data sharing may be staggered to allow the production and release of an over-arching national analysis and report. We are also exploring a number of more innovative ways of making our data fully open and accessible

How are you ensuring the survey will produce local data?

We have optimised the survey to encourage solid location data. This includes taking a bit of an experimental ‘staggered’ approach to the survey design: providing data on two levels (area of UK – Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland), three levels (areas of England, non-London), and four levels (areas of London). The Outward Code (Postcode Area + Postcode District) is the final point of all levels, enabling detailed location data wherever in the UK the respondent is from. Please note: the survey only allows a maximum of 4 digits (max Outward Code size) to be entered in the postcode field

What about the privacy and anonymity of respondents?

We want the Big Advice Survey to set the standard for protecting the privacy of respondents. For example, we have disabled IP collection (your computer’s individual address on the Internet) – your IP address is collected by default by most if not all of the major survey platforms. Similarly, the Big Advice Survey is the only survey we are aware that contains an extensive privacy statement explaining what we have done about IP collection and other measures we have taken to protect the anonymity of respondents. Read more:

Who is behind the survey?

Patrick Torsney created the Big Advice Survey, with significant feedback from individuals working in ASTF projects and other interested parties eg advice networks. It continues to be led by Patrick as part of a wide collaboration between frontline advice services and other organisations, groups and individuals interested in the future of the UK charitable advice sector

How do I get involved or get more information?

Sign up for updates

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