Offering more than advice

As a service we hold a huge amount of insight and data about what policies or practices aren’t working and the problems our clients and community face as a result. We use this information to do several things:

- to spot problems that several clients are encountering and research the causes.

- to influence decision makers to review policies and practices that are causing hardship to people in our community.

- to organise campaigns to get local and national government departments and other organisations to change policies and practices if required.

When clients come to see us for advice, or call our Adviceline phone service, our advisors write up confidential notes regarding the issues discussed. To help monitor these issues we assign ‘Advice Code Issues’ (AICs) to each case note held within our software database. These AICs, simple markers made up of three letters, help us sort cases with similar topics - for example a trader that is repeatedly selling faulty goods, or landlords not making good on promised building repairs. This may highlight a wider problem that others in our community may face in the future. By tracking these AIC codes we may see trends developing and choose to investigate further. Our advisors may also complete what we call an ‘Evidence Form’ that highlights evidence of a particular policy or practice that impacts our clients unfairly. These Evidence Forms are reviewed by volunteers working in our Research and Campaigns department, to identify emerging issues and may be compiled to use in research reports and consultations for local and national government policy changes.

As part of a national Citizens Advice organisation, we also participate in regular national campaigns such as Big Energy Week in January, Scams Awareness in June, and National Consumer Week.

For these campaigns our local office often organises public events to help raise awareness of issues that we know are common, like the ‘loyalty penalty’ where consumers who stay with one supplier often end up paying higher bills than a new customer would pay. By taking Citizens Advice information out of our office and into venues with wider audiences, we are helping prevent unfair practices and future problems.

If you are interested in knowing more about our Research and Campaigns work and becoming a local volunteer, please visit

Citizens Advice Bracknell & District