Key facts about the Citizens Advice service
What does the Citizens Advice service do?
We help people resolve their legal, money and other problems by providing advice and information, and by influencing policymakers.
How is the Citizens Advice service structured?
Citizens Advice Bureaux deliver advice services from over 3,400 community locations in England and Wales, run by 360 registered charities (as of 31 March 2012).
Citizens Advice is also a registered charity, as well as being the membership organisation for bureaux. It sets standards for the quality of advice and provides training, information systems and support to bureaux.
Together we make up the Citizens Advice service.
How and where do CAB make advice available?
The advice and information provided by bureaux is free, independent, confidential and impartial.
We provide advice through face-to-face, telephone and email services, and online via our self help website www.adviceguide.org.uk.
From 2012, we have had responsibility for the Consumer Direct telephone service, now known as the Citizens Advice consumer service.
Adviceguide received over 11 million visits during 2011/12 and includes FAQs in Welsh, Bengali, Chinese, Gujarati, Punjabi and Urdu.
Face-to-face advice is available from over 3,400 locations including high streets, doctors' surgeries, courts and prisons.
CAB advisers can write letters and make phone calls to service providers on their clients' behalf. They can help people prioritise debts and negotiate with creditors. They can also refer clients to specialist case workers, who are able to represent people at court and tribunals.
What subject areas do CAB advise on?
As the UK’s largest advice provider we are equipped to deal with any issue, from anyone, spanning debt and employment to housing and immigration plus everything in between.
During 2011/12 bureaux advised clients on almost seven million new problems, including debt problems, issues with benefits and tax credits and employment problems.
How do we influence policymakers?
Every client that comes into a bureau with a problem is a first hand example of policies or practices going wrong.
We use our clients’ stories anonymously to campaign for improvements to these policies and practices.
This involves publishing evidence reports, responding to consultations, giving evidence to select committees and providing parliamentary briefings for MPs and Welsh Assembly Members.
By campaigning for change we improve the lives of everyone, including those who have never used a CAB.
In 2011/12 an estimated 5.6 million benefited positively from our policy work.
Who works for CAB?
28,500 people work across the Citizens Advice service; 7,000 paid staff and 22,200 volunteers.
Volunteers perform all sorts of roles from advising, to administration, IT support, press relations and trusteeship.
Our volunteers give over £106 million worth of hours a year between them.
CAB volunteers benefit from free training, ongoing support and expenses.
Nearly a third of volunteers who leave us go on into paid employment or full time education.
- Volunteering - more information about our volunteers and how to apply to volunteer with your local bureau.
Who are CAB for?
During 2011/12 Citizens Advice Bureaux helped over two million people.
Nearly half the population has used our service at some point in their lives and 97 per cent know who we are (BMRB, 2009).
Citizens Advice Bureaux are here to help everyone, whoever you are and whatever the problem.
How is the Citizens Advice service funded?
Citizens Advice Bureaux receive money from local authorities, Lottery funds, primary care trusts, charitable trusts, companies and individuals.
Citizens Advice is largely funded through government grants. The income of Citizens Advice totalled £62.8 million in 2011/12.
How did CAB come to exist?
Citizens Advice Bureaux have extraordinary origins as an emergency war service. War was declared on 3 September 1939 and the very next day 200 bureaux opened their doors.
- Our history - more about the Citizens Advice service and how we came into being.
Three great reasons for CAB to exist
They make people happier and healthier: forty six per cent of people felt less anxious, less stressed, or had fewer health problems after receiving help from a CAB (MORI, 2005).
They take the strain off other local services in many ways, for example by preventing homelessness, avoiding legal action and helping people to fill in official forms correctly.
They contribute to the local economy by helping clients to manage their debts and maximise their incomes.