About Citizens Advice and Broxbourne

About our services

Research suggests that most people know of us, but few know very much about us. Citizens Advice is one of the largest voluntary organisations in the UK. It is the largest provider of free and confidential general advice and a major provider of free money advice. It is made up of a network of local bureaux which are all independent registered charities affiliated to, and regulated by, national Citizens Advice.

Citizens Advice Broxbourne is based at Old Bishops' College in Cheshunt serving the residents of the Borough of Broxbourne as well as operating at a number of outreaches.

Our highly trained advisers provide information and advice to help people resolve a wide range of problems. We also use our experience to bring injustices and failures in ‘the system’ to the attention of policy makers at local and national levels to bring about a fairer society. We call this Social Policy Work.

Our advice work is audited by national Citizens Advice and independently assessed by the Legal Services Commission who have awarded us their quality mark for general help. National Citizens Advice also audit our business management systems.

An independent review of the CAB service carried out in September 2002 said, "the service makes a major contribution to the most deprived individuals and communities" OPM 2002.

We do our best to ensure we are available at the times set out for drop in services, however this is subject to volunteer availability and may need to be changed at short notice

Acknowledgements

Our thanks and appreciation to the following organisations who have supported us financially and / or have been working in partnership during the past year

  • Borough of Broxbourne
  • Hertfordshire County Council
  • Broxbourne Housing Association
  • Individuals who have made donations large and small

The following are firms of local solicitors who provide free consultations at our offices

  • Breeze and Wyles Hertford
  • Breeze and Wyles Hoddesdon

About social policy

From early on it has been a principle of Citizens Advice service to bring about change by using the experience of our clients to influence policy making, nationally and locally.

We collect information on the kind of problems which are at any specific time causing difficulty or distress and to bring such problems to the notice of those who have the power to prevent or solve them

The high costs of a supposedly free education has a severe impact on many of our clients causing hardship for many families and acting as a source of social exclusion for the children of parents unable to afford the correct uniform or meet the costs of school trips. .

A decent education is essential to a child's success in adult life and their ability to fit in with their peers contributes to their happiness and ability to flourish at school. We must therefore not understate the importance of a child having the “right” school uniform, yet for many families on a low income , this is a constant source of hardship and anxiety. This situation is all too often made worse when a school incorporates items into its uniform which are costly and all too frequently only available from selected specialist retailers. In our area, one secondary school has 5 compulsory items of PE kit alone which are only available to buy from that school and costing in excess of £60 - that’s before you even get started with the main items of uniform.

Hertfordshire County Council offer a grant to parents on low income to help with these costs but at £81 for secondary school and £24.50 for primary school children, it does not go far enough towards meeting the costs parents face. Additionally, these grants are only available when a child starts a new school and not every year.

Fortunately, the Department for Children, Schools and Families have recently published new guidelines on uniform policies and have announced that they will take action against schools with “needlessly and prohibitively” expensive uniforms. Additionally, the Office of Fair Trading has recently written to schools warning that exclusive contracts with suppliers contravene the competition act.

Whilst we welcome this new guidance, we at the CAB will continue to monitor the situation to ensure that children are not excluded from the benefits of fully participating in their “free” education on the grounds of cost or affordability.