How it works

Agencies need to refer or signpost clients to other agencies for a variety of reasons, most commonly because they do do not have expertise in the subject area or at the level needed.  

If the adviser is satisfied that the client has the capacity to obtain the help they need elsewhere in a timely manner, the client will normally be signposted. Otherwise the advisor may contact another agency directly on behalf of the client (referral), usually if one or more of the following conditions are present: 

  • Casework has already been undertaken and it would be helpful to pass on some of this information on. 
  • The client is not, in your view, in a position to take action themselves to resolve the problem or access alternative sources of help and advice.
  • The case is urgent and there may be an important key date imminent.
  • The client has specifically asked you to share their information with another agency.
  • The client requires specialist support.

Making a referral through the CRS

Once you are a registered user of the system, you are not obliged to use it for every referral. There may be occasions where you will want to side-step or supplement the CRS process with a phone call, for example if the case is particularly urgent. Similarly, the system will not necessarily supersede all existing processes – and can be tailored for use alongside your own internal procedures. 

Once you have identified the agency you wish to refer to, check the Advisor Directory to determine who to refer to, then login to the system and follow the prompts to Create a referral. In obtaining consent from your client for you to make the referral, you may wish to give the client a copy of the client leaflet to explain the process. 

Receiving a referral

If you have agreed to receive referrals through the CRS, your designated contact person will receive a notification email to alert you when a referral is logged on the system. You will determine your own internal process for actioning this referring, which will generally mean forwarding it to the appropriate advisor. 

You are obliged to acknowledge receipt of this referral within three days, and to action the referral within a further five days – either logging a positive outcome (you agree to accept the case) or a negative outcome (you are unable to contact the client). Either way, notes can be left on the system for the referring agency, and an email will be automatically generated to inform them of the outcome. 

If for whatever reason there is a period of time when you will not be able to respond to referrals within the agreed timeframe – because of absence through sickness or staff training for example – your organisational lead person can temporarily turn your status to Not Receiving Referrals

User responsibilities

Both participating organisations and individual users are required to sign an agreement committing them to meeting the certain key obligations. For individual users these are:  

  • To ensure you obtain client consent before making a referral and to apply your own in-house confidentiality policies. 
  • Refer to the Advisor Directory to help ensure referrals are made appropriately. 
  • To use the system responsibly and highlight any technical problems with NCAN. 
  • To set up and use a secure password to access the system and to ensure this is not passed on to an unauthorised user. 
  • To keep to the agreed timescales in acknowledging (3 working days) and responding to (5 working days) incoming referrals.


If you encounter any problems when using the system, please contact us on or phone 01603 216481.