Citizens Advice Appointment: What You Can Expect From It

Citizens Advice Bureau or CAB is a chain of independent advice centres across the UK. They are the members of the National Association of Citizens Advice Bureau (NACAB) who have over 700 centres to provide various kinds of advices to the people of the UK.

The CAB provides advice on a range of issues that includes employment, housing, debt, benefits, etc. These services are mainly delivered by different volunteers working in various centres. 

Alternatively, you can consider CAB as a network of independent charities that offers free confidential advice over the phone or in-person.

The Citizens Advice Bureau gives advice on consumer rights and also supports the witnesses in courts proceeding. They also give pension-related guidance to people who are over 50 years old.

Although for any suggestion, first, you need to make an appointment with the agency. If you need any emergency guidance, book a Citizens Advice Bureau appointment as early as you can. As they only fix a limited number of appointments per day.

How to Book an Appointment with the CAB?

To book an appointment with the Citizens Advice Bureau, you need to call their official number between 9:30 am-4 pm. They operate 5 days a week from Monday to Friday excluding any public holidays.

If you want any legal advice then you can take the Citizens Advice Bureau Birmingham appointment. Along with that, they also provide guidance on work, health and disability, immigration and consumer service.

Although anyone can take an appointment,  they don’t allow someone else on your behalf to consult them. So, if you have a scheduled appointment, the CAB will provide you with independent advice that will be confidential and impartial. Also, any services offered by CAB is free of cost.

Citizens Advice Bureau helps people save their hard-earned money. In 2018, CAB’s advice directly saved the government and public services about £435 million. That is about £2 for every £1 spent on CAB services.

Here’s What to Expect from Citizens Advice Bureau Appointment

When you visit the CAB on the set date of your appointment, you need to fill out a form with basic details. On that form, you need to give your contact details and also consent to CAB, so they can hold all your records for offering continuous support in the future if necessary.

If you make an appointment with Citizens Advice, they expect you to come with all the relevant paperwork for your issue to be ready. The documents that you need to bring in to the CAB appointment are divided into different segment according to the advice you seek.

Different Documents Based On Advice

There are various categories of advices that you can seek from CAB. But, the documents needed depends on the advice you are seeking from the Citizens Advice Bureau.

1. Advice on Benefits

If you are seeking advice on benefits, then you should bring the following documents:

  1. Every letter from the government departments. That is from the Department for Work and Pension (DWP), Pension Service or your local council, and so on.
  2. If you are not happy with any decision from the government or want to challenge it, you need to bring in proper documentation.
  3. The number and details of your National Insurance.
  4. Your Income proof, which may include wage slips, benefits letters or tax-related credits.
  5. Statement from the bank. Also, the details of your savings statement if you have any.
  6. Your mortgage and tenancy agreement details.

2. Welfare Benefit Advice

If you want advice or need to check whether you are receiving all the benefits and tax credit that you’re entitled to, then bring in the following documents from everyone in your family:

  1. Certificate of the date of birth of all your family members.
  2. Gross average income from the last tax year that is from April 6th to April 5th.
  3. Gross income of this year and payslips.
  4. If you are employed or self-employed, you need to bring proof of the number of hours you work.
  5. If you are receiving any benefits, then bring all the benefit award letters while attending the appointment.
  6. Any expenses on child care, details about the childcare provider and the amount that you pay.
  7. Repayments details of mortgage or tenancy agreement. Also, the bill of Council Tax if any.

3. Problems with Debt

If you are facing any problem with repaying your existing debt, bring the following documents while seeking advice from CAB:

  1. Every detail from your bank, which include income, wage slips, benefits letters, tax slip. Also, bring in the latest copy of your account statement.
  2. All the details of your creditors and how much money you owe to them. You can also discuss the details of repayment plans if any offered by your creditor or bank.
  3. Copies of the original loan agreements and court papers.
  4. All the details of your household expense. This might include food, transport, phone, and energy bills.
  5. If you have received any latest correspondence, you need to bring a copy of that letter.

4. Housing Problems

If you consider Citizens Advice book an appointment for your housing problems by bringing the following documents:

  1. The agreement papers of your tenancy or any letters from the landlord.
  2. The details about your mortgage if you have any.
  3. If you have any order from the court, then you need to bring in all the requisite papers.
  4. In case, you own a home, you need to bring details about your title deeds.
  5. Proof of income- wage slips, tax bills, or benefit letters.

5. Employment problems

If you facing problems with your employment and need some advice from CAB, bring the following papers:

  1. A copy of your employment contract and details of any grievance, dismissal or disciplinary issues.
  2. If you have received any letters from your employer, you need to submit those papers to CAB.
  3. If you have made any employment tribunal application or have a staff handbook, you need to bring it in.
  4. Any income proof.

6. Personal or Family Issue

If you have a Citizens Advice Bureau appointment for a personal and family issue, then bring the following documents while visiting the office:

  1. Any letters or paperwork related to the issue you want advice in.
  2. If you have any court or legal agreement, bring the necessary paper.
  3. Your income proof or salary details.
  4. If you are separated from your spouse, then bring the copy of your divorce papers.

7. Consumer Problems

For any consumer-related advice you should bring:

  1. If you are having any problem with the good and service tax. Then bring the full details regarding it.
  2. Copies of all the contract or credit agreements.
  3. Any proof of your income- wage slips, benefits.
  4. If you have an issue with any items that you purchase, bring the proof of purchase.

8. Asylum or Immigration Problem

If you need advice regarding your immigration status or having requirement of asylum, you should bring the following copies of documents:

  1. Your passport and the details of your visas and permits. Also, you need to bring all the supporting letters from the Home Office.
  2. Proof of income or any supporting letter from the National Asylum Support Service.

If you have scheduled an appointment for any other problem, you should bring all the necessary papers explaining the issue.

How Do Citizens Advice Appointments work?

Different volunteers work and undergo comprehensive training programs to provide various services with the Citizens Advice Bureau. They are prepared to have vast knowledge and experience across multiple areas.

Initial Appointment

After the first visit, the initial appointment is set by the CAB. The first meeting with an advisor will be a Gateway appointment and will last for about 15 minutes. The advisor may ask questions related to your problem and if possible, provide you with the information that you need to resolve it.

Gateway appointment works as a drop-in service. You don’t require any pre-booking with the advisor to discuss your problems. You can see your advisor as soon as they become ready to meet. 

Although if you had a Gateway for discussing one specific issue, you can’t use it for any other irrelevant problem. You would need a new Gateway to register your issue.

Advice Appointment

After the initial appointment, the advisor schedules your Advice appointments. These appointments last for about an hour and have to be booked in advance. Advice appointments are a more in-depth review of your problem. It lets the advisor to decide better and explore the different option for you.

After this appointment, you and your advisor will come up with an action plan that will help you move forward with the problem. If the citizen’s advice bureau feels they can schedule another appointment with you. They might even shift your problem to a different bureau if your problem requires any specialist.

CAB works with volunteers who are trained to provide information regarding any problem. However, they are not professionally trained to offer any specific legal advice. The date and time on which CAB schedule your appointments, it cannot be changed. 

So, if you are running late for an appointment or couldn’t make it, then inform the CAB about the same before they rearrange it with someone else.

Additional Services

Citizens Advice Bureau also provides some additional services that include:

1. Healthwatch

You can provide feedback for any unpleasant experience with the healthcare providers. Then they will pass this information to the concerned authority to improve the services.

2. Energy Best Deal

To save more energy bills, CAB offers tailored advices to people who need it.

3. Domestic Abuse

If you have experienced any domestic violence, you can use the services of CAB to issue immediate order from a judge.

4. Social Prescribing

If you feel socially isolated, the social prescribing program under the CAB can help you with physical and emotional needs.

5. Food Bank Referal

In any extreme condition, if you are struggling to feed yourself then CAB can provide referrals to any local food bank.

These along with many other services are offered by the Citizens Advice Bureau to help out people across the UK.

Citizens Advice Bureau Appointment Policy

As an advice charity, services of the CAB are always on high demand. Thus, they provide their services through appointments only. If some clients miss appointments after scheduling them, it becomes a problem for the bureau as the slot is left unfilled causing a waste of time and non-productiveness.

So, according to the CAB appointment policy if you are missing any appointments you need to give them advance notice. This way, the unfilled slots can be given to someone else. Besides, to deal with appointment problems CAB has made the following policy.

If you are going to be late, first, you need to immediately inform about it to the CAB. You can either call on their number or drop an email in their official e-mail address.

In case you are going to be late for 1-10 minutes, let the CAB know and request them to keep your appointment open. So, you can still consult an adviser from the Citizens Advice Bureau.

If you are late for 10 minutes or more, its likely that you will not meet any advisor as the slot for your appointment would be given to someone else. Although it depends on the circumstance of that day if anything is still possible.

When you are more than 20 minutes late, the CAB will assume that you will not attend the appointment and cancel it for the said date. It is assumed so that the other clients that are scheduled for the appointments can talk to their advisors as soon as possible. You may have to return another day to schedule your appointment again.

What Happens if you Miss Appointments?

If you aren’t able to attend the scheduled appointment and had to miss it for the first time, it can be rescheduled on a later date. Although CAB is generally quite busy and getting the next appointment might take several weeks. So, if your problem is urgent and requires an immediate solution, attend the scheduled appointments on time.

If you miss 2 or more appointments, then the Citizens Advice Bureau will think you no longer need their services. It might get hard to get the next appointment unless you have valid reasons for your missed appointments. In case they are not satisfied with your explanation, you won’t be given any other future appointments from the CAB.

However, after missing 2 consecutively appointments, if CAB schedules you 3rd appointment and you miss it again for some reason, then CAB will blacklist you from its services. However, this will only be done as the last resort in the most exceptional circumstances. If you are being blacklisted, then CAB will inform you about the same in writing.