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How useful is the Citizens Advice Bureau?

The CAB network is 70 years old today. Have you ever had to use their services?

The network of 200 offices was planned before the war as an emergency service to deal with practical problems in a time of conflict. Over the years the problems have changed but the need for help appears to be as strong as ever.

New figures show bureaux in England and Wales are dealing with record numbers of unemployment and debt problems.

Today the Citizens Advice service is one of the largest charitable organisations in the UK, with 20,000 trained volunteers keeping the service running.

How relevant are CABs in 2009? Have you used their services to resolve an issue? Is there a need to expand the service?


Read the full story



Published: Friday, 4 September, 2009, 09:36 GMT 10:36 UK

All comments as they come in

Added: Saturday, 5 September, 2009, 07:16 GMT 08:16 UK

Short opening hours and them not answering the phone make it difficult to get help.

[Kathyan], Sheffield, United Kingdom

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Added: Saturday, 5 September, 2009, 07:10 GMT 08:10 UK

To couner-balance the posts about CAB volunteers being 'middle-class do-gooders', I must say, that after my husband was diagnosed with a progressive illness and put on Incapacity Benefit, he decided not to sit at home feeling sorry for himself, but to volunteer. He spent 7 years with the CAB and saw the whole of human life through the doors.

He often suffered verbal abuse from those who did not get the answer they wanted, but on the whole, people were very grateful for the help they received.

Slaney D, Gloucestershire

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Added: Saturday, 5 September, 2009, 06:52 GMT 07:52 UK

I work in a call centre and get the CAB or people who have been advised by the CAB calling up trying to quote the 'law' when in fact they are incorrect most of the times.

The CAB when trying to advise on legal issues dont look at the companies terms and conditions, which makes dealing with these misadvised people very hard indeed.
Most then refuse to pay there bill and get the creditiors sent to them.

So no I cant say that I agree with them...better information on the internet.

Courtney, Belfast

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Added: Saturday, 5 September, 2009, 06:47 GMT 07:47 UK

Obviously from reading these comments the CAB helps a lot of people. However on both occasions I have visited them for advice I have been disappointed, once a legal issue I needed help to find a legal aid solicitor , and advice on suing someone. And another on benefits. Both times all I got was some printouts from the Internet I could have done myself. And for the benefits issue I already knew more than the CAB advisor. Perhaps I have the wrong sort of problems.

[TuftyNuts], Scotland

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Added: Saturday, 5 September, 2009, 06:34 GMT 07:34 UK

CAB is vital. It provides a first resort for those who have no idea how to address a concern or where to turn. When I suffered from depression I found nobody willing to talk to 'the mentally ill' to offer help. The DWP cut my sickness benefit due to a remarkably perfunctory medical examination ('...you found your way here, therefore you can't be ill...') and I had no idea what to do next, though I am a lawyer. The CAB were the window I found to shed light on both my position and the way ahead.

[GeordieBadger]

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Added: Saturday, 5 September, 2009, 05:37 GMT 06:37 UK

I have never had cause to use them, but even an old conservative like me can see the good, decent and valuable work that they do, through good times and bad.

Long may they continue, and be sufficiently funded.

Mark, Leigh, Lancs

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Added: Saturday, 5 September, 2009, 04:18 GMT 05:18 UK

I believe CABs and the similar institutes are necessary for a democratic society as UK. In non-democratic societies, the activities of such a bureau, party, or association may bring prison and death sentences for people who have provided those facilities.The autocratic regimes wish to be free from these bodies, while CABs or similar to that may save authorities from criticism against themselves. Similar to CABs, we have "Shoura-ye Hal-e Ekhtelaf" which is related to the judiciary system of Iran.

Gholamhosain Tasbihi, Tabriz, Iran

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Added: Saturday, 5 September, 2009, 03:14 GMT 04:14 UK

All I can say is..... IF you want to get some where then call a CAB!
ps No tip required!

Iam Alwrite, MN, United States

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Added: Saturday, 5 September, 2009, 01:39 GMT 02:39 UK

They are overworked and they don't answer the phone - they need more funding and more staff . Plus the advice I got was rubbish!
I ended up using a solicitor.

[POLARIS69], Kent, United Kingdom

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Added: Saturday, 5 September, 2009, 01:11 GMT 02:11 UK

When I went to the CAB there was a very long queue, so I just grabbed some leaflets, followed the advice, and got about £4k compensation for unfair dismissal, but it did take time and effort on my part following it up.
I think the staff there are very seriously overworked, and have their work cut out. I think a lot of people take advantage (I use the word advantage in place of something less polite!).
I think the CAB is more necessary than ever, and I'm surprised it's a charity.

Ann, Brighton

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Added: Saturday, 5 September, 2009, 24:55 GMT 01:55 UK

It's rare institution and should be preserved as a heritage.One can only pray for a similar institution in other developing countries.

arun mehta, mumbai, India

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Added: Saturday, 5 September, 2009, 24:12 GMT 01:12 UK

Citizens Advice Bureau is just fantastic,

Carl Dunn, newcastle

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Added: Friday, 4 September, 2009, 23:28 GMT 00:28 UK

My experiences of the CAB have been mostly positive. On one occasion, when I asked for help in completing a form, the helper unfortunately seemed to know less about the relevant legislation than I did. On some occasions, it's been difficult to get an appointment - I suspect that the CAB was understaffed.

[Grey_Animal], Coventry, United Kingdom

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Added: Friday, 4 September, 2009, 23:26 GMT 00:26 UK

"Its a very middle class organisation who's staff volunteers and paid have little understanding of the problems faced by the poor and working classes."

I'm a middle class volunteer - public school, university and a professional career .

I've also been homeless, penniless, and an immigrant (in another country). I've lost a job, been left by my partner and had a breakdown. I've experienced something of what a lot of my clients have and empathise with them.

Don't judge a book by its cover.

Caring volunteer, UK

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Added: Friday, 4 September, 2009, 22:18 GMT 23:18 UK

Only today a colleague of mine received a call from the CAB representing a customer of ours who was in her late 80's and confused about a policy she was paying for. My colleague was able to explain it to the CAB representative, who in turn - satisfied she understood - was able to explain it to our elderly customer face to face. They are invaluable!!!

Karen, Redhill

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DEBATE STATUS

Total comments:
247
Published comments:
225
Rejected comments:
22
No further comments will be published as debate is now closed

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