Brief History of the Citizens Advice Service


3 September 1939: War is declared.

4 September 1939:The first 200 bureaux open.



From the start, volunteers run the service working from public buildings and private houses. Advisers deal with problems relating to the loss of ration books, homelessness and evacuation. They also help locate missing relatives and prisoners of war. Debt quickly becomes a key issue as income reduces due to call-ups.

1942: The number of bureaux peaks at 1,074 and one even operates out of a converted horse box that parks near bombed areas.

1965: The national total for enquiries reaches 1.25 million.


1973: A development grant from the Government is given to the national charity, the National Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux (NACAB), to extend the network.

2002: The service receives a £20 million grant from the Government's Capital Modernisation Fund to provide IT infrastructure to roll out e-government services to CAB clients.

2003: Citizens Advice Bureaux become the first in the advice sector to audit the quality of their advice.

4 September 2009: The Citizens Advice service celebrates its 70th birthday


Today there are 394 Citizens Advice Bureaux across England and Wales. Each one is an independent registered charity helping people to resolve their legal, money and other problems by providing free advice and information, and by influencing policymakers. The network relies on 21,500 trained volunteers to keep the service running, and provides advice from 3,500 locations (including community outreach venues) as well as by phone, in people's homes and via the internet.


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A History of the Harlow Citizens Advice Bureau