One of the aims of the Citizens Advice service is “to exercise a responsible influence on the development of social policies and services, both locally and nationally”.
Whilst advice may benefit an individual it is often more effective in the long run to help clients by tackling the root cause of a problem. At Citizens Advice Eastleigh, we campaign for change in social policy both nationally and locally by using the evidence we collect from helping our clients. This evidence is always used anonymously unless we have a client’s express permission to use it. Confidentiality is always maintained.
With local or regional issues Eastleigh Bureau either acts on its own or joins forces with other CABs nearby. We collect evidence of persistent local problems and take the matter up by contacting the offending company or statutory body. We sometimes involve our local MPs and Councillors.
Issues we have taken forward are;
- The lack of NHS Dentists in the Eastleigh Borough area.
- The complicated language and jargon used by local councils when writing to clients about their benefits.
- The high costs of schooling ie uniform, sports gear, trips etc., and the affect it has on families on a low income.
Citizens Advice the operating name for the National Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux collects evidence of problems from CABs throughout the country and uses it to talk to Government, local councils and other policy makers to help them improve the laws and services that affect ordinary people.
Citizens Advice alerts us to issues each month and asks us to look for evidence of the matter. They can then present the evidence and their recommendations for change to policy makers in the form of letters, briefings, submissions, reports and press releases. Also policymakers themselves visit the Citizens Advice social policy department in London to look at evidence with a view to making changes.