CAB stands for Citizens Advice Bureau, a UK charity group that provides free, confidential, and impartial advice to UK residents regarding their rights and responsibilities.
There are more than 3,500 CAB centers located throughout England and Wales and these are operated by 382 individual charities.
Citizens Advice is a charity itself and serves as the membership organization for the CAB. Together, these entities form the Citizens Advice service, which provides advice on topics including health, housing, consumer issues, and debt.
Between 2010 and 2011, Citizens Advice helped 2.1 million consumers resolve 7.1 million problems. With the average UK household debt at £7,975, it is no surprise that debt is one of the major issues dealt with by CAB. Nine percent of the population is engaged in a constant struggle or falling behind with paying bills and meeting other financial commitments.
During 2010 and 2011, 550,000 people turned to the CAB for advice regarding 2.3 million debt issues.
The most common debt issues dealt with by the CAB during the past year related to unsecured personal loans, store cards, and credit cards. Water debts, council tax arrears, and Debt Relief Orders were the debt advice topics that experienced the largest increases from the previous year.
The CAB continues to help clients reschedule and write off various types of debt.
Overdebtedness is defined by CAB as the inability to make current credit repayments and meet other financial commitments without reducing other expenses below the normal minimum level. This situation is usually caused by unrealistic repayment expectations, an unexpected change in circumstances like a divorce or illness, or effects of government legislative changes.
Overdebtedness is both caused by and contributes to poverty, financial exclusion, and social exclusion. According to research, 35 percent of moderate or low-income families cannot make repayments on at least one credit commitment or bill.
People in debt suffer physically and emotionally, with debt affecting health, relationships, education, employment, and future plans. Debt-related health issues can lead to loss of productivity and absenteeism. Situations like this have effects that extend beyond the individual experiencing debt.
The average cost to the public is £1,000 per debt issue and the most serious debt problems cost multiple times this amount
The positive benefits of debt advice have been illustrated through research conducted by Citizens Advice and the Legal Services Research Center. A key outcome of CAB debt advice is successful debt prioritization and rescheduling including debt management programs, Administration Orders, and Individual Voluntary Arrangements.
The CAB helped UK residents successfully reschedule £113 million worth of debt from 2010 to 2011. It also helped consumers write off £238 million in debt through Debt Relief Orders and bankruptcy.
The CAB continues to help residents of England and Wales deal with debt issues. From 2010 to 2011, overall customer satisfaction with the service was 96 percent. Consumers find it easy to access the service online, over the telephone, and in person.
Nearly all are satisfied with the advice and information they receive and would either use CAB again or recommend it to other people.