people 4 conferenceEach and every working day in Wiltshire we help people resolve their legal, money and other issues.  We do this by providing the advice and information people need for the problems they face and by campaigning to improve the policies and practices that affect people's lives.

We also work in partnership with other local organisations, community groups and Wiltshire Council to ensure the people of Wiltshire get the advice, support and help they need.   

Below we've featured just some of our most recent achievements, new services on offer, campaign successes and the work we've been doing to help the people of Wiltshire successfully deal with life's problems.

Squeezed Britain & The Cost of Living Crisis

The most urgent story of our time?

Just under 18 months ago in a speech delivered at a Resolution Foundation event Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice spoke about “squeezed Britain” and the major assumption behind then current policy thinking that you are OK if you are in work, earning and belonging.

What was clear to us at Citizens Advice then, as now, is that in squeezed Britain some are more squeezed than others. Then nationally we were seeing some 2 million people a year, another 14 million online and a million on the telephone and while generally those we deal with are people who are not coping, growing numbers of the people we were helping were those we traditionally expect to cope – that’s working adult households – making up 40 per cent of our face to face clients.

Ms Guy argued that work itself is not necessarily enough as it can often be a precarious position; often insecure, part time or self employment with no contingencies, no cushion, and no savings. Leading to a situation where any financial shock, as seemingly as innocuous as a broken down washing machine, can tip people over the edge.

“And when they tip over the edge, where do they turn? These people are generally used to coping so they continue to try. Often they resort to pay day loans (where interest rates do not mirror the financial market). They look for short term solutions and this often makes matters far worse. When in crisis then, either through debt or often employment issues, they turn to support from advice and welfare benefits.”
Fast forward to July 2014 and what headlines have we been waking up to?

headlines smaller


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“Why do I like the job? Because I make a difference”

Carol explains how she helps support people affected by cancer

For those affected by cancer, their finances probably isn’t their first thought. Yet many people find a cancer diagnosis can bring money worries.

“People don’t realise just how much it costs to be ill”

Macmillan funds a number of cancer-specific CAB benefits advisors around the country, like Carol who works for Wiltshire Citizens Advice, based in Salisbury.

Carol and her colleague can offer specialist advice to help ease these concerns, including information on benefits, tax credits, grants and loans. You can speak to these advisors face-to-face or over the phone, and they'll help you to work out what financial help you could be entitled to so no-one should have to face cancer alone.

Carol Macmillan Benefits Advisor      
Carol explains in her own words what her role entails, and why she loves her work.   

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6.5 million reasons we care

Carers Week 2014

Every day 6,000 people take on a new caring role in the UK. Up and down the UK there are 6.5 million people caring unpaid for an ill, frail or disabled family member or friend. These people are called carers but they would probably say "I'm just being a husband, a wife, a mum, a dad, a son, a daughter, a friend or a good neighbour."
When people need help with their day-to-day living they often turn to their family and friends. Looking after each other is something that we do. We should all be prepared to care.
Carers help with personal things getting someone washed and dressed, turning them in their sleep, helping them move about or administering their medication. Carers also help with things like shopping, laundry, cleaning, cooking, filling in forms or managing money.

what do carers do
Carers Week, which takes place from Monday 9 to Sunday 15 June 2014, is an annual awareness campaign celebrating and recognising the contribution made by the UK’s 6.5 million carers who look after an ill, frail or disabled family member or friend.

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Make ESA fit for work

If you become sick or disabled and lose your job you want to know that you will be supported. Poorly designed rules make it difficult to determine who is fit for work and who isn’t. Citizens Advice helps more people with Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) than any other issue – so we're calling on the Government to make ESA fit for work.
The Government is now deciding which company will run the tests that determine people's ability to work in the future. Without significant improvements we risk facing another five years of failure. Change is needed now to make sure the tests are fair, consistent and right first time.
fit for work

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Are you aware of your loved ones wishes?

Making end of life plans remains a taboo for many

Dying Matters Awareness Week
Millions of Britons are failing to make adequate plans for their death and don’t know the wishes of their loved ones, according to a new study released by Dying Matters.
The information, released to coincide with Dying Matters Awareness Week, which runs from 12-18 May, finds that discussing dying and making end of life plans remain a taboo for many people.

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Coping with death

When someone dies there are many decisions and arrangements to make. These can be difficult in a time of grief.

In our online advice you can find out what you need to do after someone has died, including who to inform and how to arrange the funeral. You can also find help with what to do about the person’s financial affairs and their will:
Information on registering a death, arranging a funeral, dealing with property and organisations which can provide further help and counselling.

Information on the role of the executor or administrator in dealing with the estate of a deceased person.

Information about making a will, free will-writing services and how to change, challenge or destroy a will.

Information on who can and cannot inherit if someone dies without making a will. Covers married couples, civil partners, children and other relatives.

Who to contact if someone dies abroad, registering the death and making funeral arrangements including covering the costs, and whether you can claim on travel insurance.


Coping with Death
We've also developed a set of 5 really useful leaflets about various aspects of coping with death, following our work on the issues around Funeral Poverty. They are all available to download below:

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Welfare Reform

The welfare reform act was passed in March 2012.  It is the biggest reform of social security for over 60 years.  
The scale of change is huge.  Every area of the benefit system is set to change as £18 billion is to be cut from the welfare bill by 2014.
Welfare reformWiltshire Money have produced a short video highlighting some of the changes and the impact they will have across Wiltshire.

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the difference between a secure future and a desperate struggle

Financial skills for life - helping people manage their money

At Citizens Advice we know that having the financial skills to manage your money and avoid debt can mean the difference between a secure future and a desperate struggle.

Building people's skills and confidence to avoid financial crisis

The number of people coming to us for debt advice continues to increase. In 2012/2013 we handled nearly 2 million debt enquiries. Through our financial capability work we try to help people avoid falling into debt and financial crisis. We give people the knowledge skills and confidence to manage their money effectively and take responsibility for their financial decisions.
CABx offering financial skills training
The impact of financial capability on individual lives goes much further than simply managing money better. Financial skills can be directly correlated to improved health, well-being, employment and life choices – supporting people to become more informed and powerful consumers.

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Mandatory reconsideration isn't working

for Employment and Support Allowance claimants

Mandatory Reconsideration for ESA claimants isn't working


Cutting off people’s employment and support allowance (ESA) benefits while the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) give a second opinion on their claim is adding an unnecessary administrative burden, causing stress and leaving some people with no income for a significant period of time.

When this new stage called mandatory reconsideration (MR) was introduced DWP said it should take on average two weeks, but Citizens Advice regularly see people waiting 6 weeks without a decision, and without payment of ESA. Some CAB advisors have reported not seeing a single client getting their MR back in two weeks.

Posted in News


Four in five say volunteering boosts health

New survey reveals that six in ten people say volunteering reduces stress

Volunteers' Week - Volunteering with CAB
Volunteering boosts employability, self-esteem and health, according to a new report published today by Citizens Advice to mark Volunteers’ Week.
The new report ‘CAB volunteering – how everyone benefits’ also reveals that 6 in 10 people who give their time to the Citizens Advice service feel less stressed as a result.
The research also found volunteering can be particularly beneficial for people who suffer with mental health problems. Three-quarters of individuals identified with mental health issues said that “volunteering helped them feel more able to manage their condition.”
Four in 4 in 5 people believe volunteering has had a positive effect on their health.
In 2013, 194 volunteers gave up their time for Wiltshire Citizens Advice, helping nearly 18,000 people in Wiltshire to solve over 45,000 problems.
Nationally, more than 22,000 volunteers gave up their time to help people in Citizens Advice Bureaux, resulting in more than £100million of volunteering hours.

Posted in News


Universal credit campaign win

Pop Goes the payslip: Making universal credit work for families

Pop goes the payslip
On 2 April 2014, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson helped Citizens Advice to launch Pop goes the payslip, our comprehensive analysis of the impact of universal credit on families with children and recommendations for ensuring extra work is always more financially rewarding.

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Broken zero-hours contracts are leaving workers in limbo

30 April 2014

Citizens Advice has said there must be clarification to the rules on zero hours contracts to protect employees who are left with no money coming in or open to exploitation at work. The call comes as new figures from the Office of National Statistics reveal that there could be up to 2.7 million people on contracts with no fixed hours of work, with many receiving no work at all.

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Successful outcomes for our clients and thousands like them - case law in action

One of our Benefit caseworkers in Chippenham took on a case for a couple with two disabled children under 10 who had had their Housing Benefit restricted as they were said to have too many bedrooms. Housing benefit ruled they only needed one room for the children as they were both under 10. The couple argued the children needed separate rooms because of the extent of their disabilities. Our caseworker took the case to appeal but was turned down but then referred the case to CPAG, who took the case to the Court Of Appeal and the case was successful.

Initially the DWP were considering challenging the ruling in the Supreme Court. In March 2013 they announced they were dropping the appeal and have accepted this will now we enshrined in law. It will also impact on all the current debate on the so called ‘Bedroom Tax’.

Posted in News

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