Citizens Advice Portsmouth have been there to give free advice to everyone for 80 years

Life is complicated – you may have money, benefit, housing or legal problems. We can help.

Sunday, 1st September 2019, 3:41 pm
Updated Tuesday, 3rd September 2019, 6:16 pm
The original Citizens Advice mobile service - a horse box!

We’re part of a network of charities, a community – we provide free and confidential advice in person, on the telephone or online. People rely on us because we’re independent and totally impartial.

We realise that we may not be the first charity you think about, so this is the first in a series of monthly articles to let you know more about us and our services.

We thought we would start, however, by telling you a bit about our history.

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Today is our 80th birthday. Citizens Advice Portsmouth started operation on September 4, 1939 – the day after the Second World War was declared.

It was one of the initial 200 Citizen Advice locations.

At the beginning, volunteers ran the service from public buildings and private houses.

Advisors dealt with issues such as loss of ration books, homelessness and evacuation. Debt soon became a big issue due to reduced household income as men were called up to fight.

In 1941, the first mobile services were set up, typically in horse boxes. These had the great advantage that they were able to travel to areas that had been affected by The Blitz and to help those most in need.

After the war, the service saw an influx of enquiries around family problems caused by the stresses of conflict – including increasing divorce rates and family breakup.

During our history, we have continued to support those most in need.

In 1984, social security became the most common enquiry, reflecting the number of people who were reliant upon it.

But throughout the 1980s, there were significant issues related to benefits and people trying to understand the major welfare reforms at that time.

The first half of the 1990s saw people struggling with debt due to poll tax arrears and then with council tax arrears from 1993 onwards.

Major welfare reforms have continued into the 21st century, the most recent being the introduction of Universal Credit. In fact, Citizens Advice presented evidence on the problems with the roll-out of Universal Credit and, after months of campaigning, the government announced £1.5bn in extra funding to support.

Plus, of course, we had the financial crash in 2008, the ramifications of which are still with all of us today.

We are now on the threshold of a new set of circumstances for the people of our city with both the implementation of Universal Credit and our departure from the European Union.

Be assured that we are ready to support those in our community who need our help …. as we have done for the past 80 years.

How to get in touch

The service operates through a national telephone line – 0800

144 8 444 – or through webchat at We also operate locally.

Citizens Advice Portsmouth helps clients in Portsmouth and

Cosham, and Citizens Advice Havant helps clients who live in

the Havant area.

Clients who need assistance with Universal Credit claims can also come in to see us when we are at Portsmouth or Cosham jobcentres – get in touch with us for an appointment.

Ark Royal House, Winston Churchill Avenue, Portsmouth, PO1 2GF

(023) 9285 5855 – Advice Only or email [email protected]

Universal Credit issues - Dedicated help means that you are not alone

SINCE April of this year, we have been providing Universal Credit claimants with help under the Help to Claim service, which is a dedicated service from Citizens Advice. It’s free, independent, confidential and impartial.

Our help includes checking that Portsmouth residents who want to make a claim are eligible for Universal Credit and ensuring that it’s the most appropriate thing for them to do, helping them to make an informed decision.

We also assist with making their application and getting to their first payment.

Getting advice before applying for Universal Credit is worthwhile as the system can be complex, given that five benefits have been rolled into one. Universal Credit has a digital focus – with most people needing to make a claim online.

Common problems that we see include people who struggle to apply as they’re not comfortable with using the internet, people claiming Universal Credit when they would be better off claiming other benefits, people claiming too early, and people who have their claims rejected for not providing the necessary information in time.