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The first 200 Citizens Advice Bureaux were set up days after the outbreak of World War Two. They popped up throughout communities, including in some people’s front rooms.

A lot has changed since then, but one thing we have not changed is that we continue to remain in local communities offering free, impartial advice to anyone who needs it.

In 2019, we celebrated 80 years of providing local advice and support to residents in West Sussex. Read more about our fascinating local and national history.

Citizens Advice – helping to solve problems since 1939


Citizens Advice celebrates 80th anniversary.


Government rolls out Universal Credit in West Sussex, along with news that Citizens Advice will receive £39 million pounds to support clients across the nation to access Universal Credit.


Citizens Advice in West Sussex win ‘one service’ award at National Conference as part of 10 CA’s who trail blazed the launch of new case management system ‘Casebook’.



In April 2015, Citizens Advice took on 2 new services. The Citizens Advice network provides the face-to-face service for Pension Wise. The Citizens Advice Witness Service provides free, independent support for witnesses in criminal courts in England and Wales.

4 September 2014

Citizens Advice service celebrates its 75th birthday.


More than two million people came to use our service for face-to-face or phone advice. More than 12 million people used the digital services.


Citizens Advice Bureaux deliver advice services from over 3,400 community locations in England and Wales, run by 360 registered charities, helping people to resolve their legal, money and other problems by providing free advice and information, and by influencing policymakers.

4 September 2009

Citizens Advice service celebrates its 70th birthday.


After a ten year campaign using evidence from Citizens Advice service clients, the Government added an amendment to the Housing Bill to include a tenancy deposit protection scheme.


Adviceguide and self-help content is made available in Welsh, Bengali, Chinese, Gujarati, Punjabi and Urdu and visits continue to increase, extending access to our advice to those who cannot use our local service. Citizens Advice Bureaux become the first in the advice sector to audit the quality of their advice. An independently commissioned review of the service by the Office for Public Management concludes that “the Citizens Advice service provides excellent value in return for the public funding it receives”


Changes to the benefit system and work practices generate a large proportion of the enquiries bureau receive.


www.adviceguide.org.uk is launched, allowing people to access advice online 24 hours a day. The service celebrates its Diamond Jubilee and launches Advice Week.


Two recessions mean a growth in poverty and enquiries rise in line with this.


Consumer protection becomes a priority.


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


A quarter of enquiries relate to housing and the number of bureaux has now reduced from 1,074 to 416.


The national total for enquiries reaches 1.25 million.


Funding from the Government for the national body is restored.


Despite the success of Citizens Advice Bureaux, funding from the Ministry of Health is cut after the war, and by 1953 the number of bureaux has halved.


The Rent Act results in a big increase in housing related enquiries.


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

4 September 1939

The first 200 bureaux open. From the beginning, volunteers delivered the service working from public buildings and private houses. Volunteer 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 also quickly becomes a key issue as income reduces due to call-ups.

3 September 1939

War is declared.


The prospect of a world war looms so the National Council of Social Services (the forerunner of today’s National Council of Voluntary Organisations) establishes a group to look at how to meet the needs of the civilian population in war time. The view was that “Citizens Advice Bureaux should be established throughout the country, particularly in the large cities and industrial areas where social disorganisation may be acute.”



The Government is considering the need for an information service linked to the fledgling social welfare service.

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