How our advice works

Our aim is to work with you to resolve your problem and put you back in charge of your life as quickly as we can. To do this we have organised our advice as follows.

Initial assessments

When you first contact us we will ask you some questions during a fairly short initial interview to find out what it is you need help with and whether or not we are the best place to help you.

This assessment can take place over the phone or face to face. It will lead to one of the following outcomes, which we will agree with you:

  • We will give you some information, usually printed from our national Adviceguide which we have agreed is what you need to be able to sort the problem out for yourself; or
  • We may give you some short, specific advice about your query, especially if it is a reasonably straightforward issue; or
  • We may need to refer you for a longer appointment with another adviser. Sometimes this will be later on the same day and sometimes it will be on another day. This will depend on the urgency of your problem and the availability of an appointment. If you are experiencing an emergency (for example an imminent eviction) then we will see you as soon as we possibly can; or
  • We may agree that there is another organisation who can provide the help you need better than we can. For example you may need to see a solicitor or a specialist we don't have. There may be helplines, such as the Citizens Advice consumer adviceline, who are better placed to help.

It is helpful when you contact us if you can have with you all the relevant information about your problem. This will be different depending on the type of problem, but if you can have with you any letters from other organisations, such as the Job Centre, creditors, the council or whoever your problem is with.


Where we need to go into the problem in more detail we will make you an appointment. This may be with a generalist adviser (usually a volunteer) or it may be with a specialist adviser, depending on the seriousness and urgency of the problem. Ideally we will be able to resolve things at this appointment and by the end of the interview we will have agreed with you what needs to be done and who will do it. This may include ringing third parties for information or to negotiate payments or writing to them. Again we will agree this with you and we will agree what we will do and what it is best for you to do.

We will let you know what information you need to bring to the appointment and it will make things go much more smoothly if you can bring as much of what we ask for as you can.


Where the problem is serious or complicated or will take some time to resolve we may need to offer a casework service. This will involve your case being passed to a specific caseworker who will be responsible for it and be the person who contacts you. Unfortunately we do not have caseworkers in all the subject areas we would like so this may not be possible in every case where it would be helpful.


We are here to help you and to work with you to resolve your problems. We are not here to tell you what to do or what not to do. Our advice will always be agreed with you and you will remain in control of the process. This is a fundamental part of how we work and reflects the principles that underpin our service:

  • Free - we do not charge for the services we offer that are funded by public or charitable funders. This covers all of our core advice services and projects. We do make a charge for some of our training;
  • Confidential - the advice we give is completely confidential. We will not pass on anything you have told us, or even the fact you have contacted us, to anyone outside of the CAB service without your permission. If we need to contact a third party on your behalf (to find out information or negotiate) we will check this  with you first and get your agreement to do so.
  • Independent -  we make our own decisions and are not controlled by any other organisations. We have to work within the law and are regulated by various external bodies who make sure our quality is up to scratch. We are not part of any government department, local council or commercial organisation, although we do work closely with them where it helps us and our clients.
  • Impartial - our services are offered on the basis of need, not of any preferences we may hold about who we want to help. Often resources are tight and we can not help everyone we would like to. Then we need to prioritise our services, but priority will be given to those whose needs are greatest.