Citizens Advice: a most cherished people's resource


The Citizens Advice (CA) service was set up to provide free, impartial and confidential advice to help people resolve legal, financial and other problems.

Throughout England and Wales there are 394 Citizens Advice bureaux, all of which are registered charities. Citizens Advice itself is also a registered charity, as well as acting as the membership organisation for the bureaux.

Citizens Advice deals with a huge variety of problems which affect the lives of thousands of people, many of whom are disadvantaged and/or vulnerable.

For comprehensive details of all the issues CA most commonly deals with, the charity's website ( is invaluable. Here you'll find a mine of information on the UK legal system, and the knock-on effects should you decide to embark upon legal action.

For example, you might feel you have a fair complaint against an employer or other body which has allegedly let you down. Issues related to problems at work are among the most frequently raised with Citizens Advice.

If you have such an issue, CA's position is that you should first try talking to your employer. You might find between you a mutually agreeable solution with no further fuss.

However, some problems have more to them, perhaps best resolved by a written complaint. But what if this doesn't work either? Time to consider the expertise of Citizens Advice.

In contexts from work problems to traffic accidents that were not your fault, CA can guide you through the ins and outs of claims, help you with legal costs and instructing a solicitor, what to expect in court and your alternative options if you'd sooner avoid the time and hassle of court hearings.

There's also useful information about personal injury, and how to claim for personal injury through no-win-no-fee agreements.

What if you find yourself at the wrong end of a complaint? If, say, a business takes legal action against you to recover losses for theft, CA tells you about your rights and theirs, with full details of what you can do if you get a demand for payment.

There's an exhaustive section on police powers, including current official guidelines on stop-and-search, complaints procedures and at what point the police are allowed to question a suspect or witness. Full accounts are also given on the CA website of young people and the law and the rights of prisoners.

There's plenty more in a similar vein, all designed to demystify many of the law's grey areas and how they apply to ordinary people.

In short, Citizens Advice remains one of our most important charities. As austerity measures in the wake of credit crunch and recession take hold, it's a resource we should all cherish, support and be immensely proud of.

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