The aims of the Citizens Advice service are:
• To ensure that individuals do not suffer through lack of knowledge of their rights and responsibilities, or of the services available to them, or through an inability to express their needs effectively.
• To exercise a responsible influence on the development of social policies and services both, locally and nationally.
By providing an advice service, we deal with clients’ problems on an individual, day-to-day basis feeding back information to the bodies responsible for policy making. We endeavour to prevent problems from recurring and similar problems from arising.
We must comply with the association’s conditions of membership, which includes 12 principles. The main principles are:
A free service – We provide information, advice and assistance (including representation) free of charge. It does not withhold its services from any client seeking help because they are believed to be able to pay for help from an alternative source. The service is advertised to the public as being free of charge to ensure that members of the public are not discouraged from taking advantage of the service for fear of incurring expense.
Confidentiality – We provide confidentiality to clients. Nothing learned from clients, including the fact of their visit, will be passed on to anyone outside the service without express permission of the client. Although it is a function of the service to exercise a responsible influence on the development of social policies concerning matters which have been brought to light in the course of assisting clients, no details will be made public which might enable clients to be identified without their express consent.
Independent – The service provided by us is completely independent. The policies and practices of the service are decided solely by the member bureaux. No other individual or agency, even if they are giving financial support or other aid to the bureau, will influence the decision making process of the bureau.
Impartiality – The service provided by us is impartial, it is open to all, and is regardless of any subjective opinion as to whether or not the client is deserving. Our advisers are trained to provide information solely on the basis of its potential usefulness to the client, i.e. information will not be selected to conform to any particular point of view. Representations made on behalf of clients will faithfully attempt to express the client’s personal intentions and points of view.
The other principles are:
• community accountability
• client’s right to decide
• a voluntary service
• information retrieval
• a generalist service