If you have questions about what we do and the services we provide, you may find the answers below. Alternatively, please don’t hesitate to contact us for further information and advice.
Why can’t I book an appointment if I come to the bureau and speak to a receptionist?
We operate a Telephone First service. We know this sounds as if we’re making it more complicated for you, but actually this will save time. The person who answers the phone an Assessor, and what you say will help decide the quickest and best way to help. The Assessor can get a lot of information up on screen, and a lot of people’s questions can be answered just in that phone call. You can be emailed the information too. If it’s more complicated, the Assessor can make you an appointment with an Adviser in our office.
What do I do if I can't attend an appointment?
If you can’t attend an appointment please let us know as soon as possible. If you give us your contact number when you make the appointment, we’ll try and contact you the day before by text or phone just to check you can come. But if you find you can’t, please reply to the text, or give us a ring on this number: 01494 448281. We’ll then make you another appointment if you still want one.
If I give you information, will it get back to the Council? You are part of the Council aren’t you?
No we’re not! We are very grateful for the Grant Aid we get from Wycombe District Council but we are completely independent – it’s one of our 4 guiding principles: we’re Free, Independent, Confidential and Impartial. So we won’t share information about you with any other organisations unless you tell us we can.
Why can I only book an appointment for a week in advance?
2 reasons: 1 is that we need always to keep some appointments free for clients with very urgent problems. And 2: We’ve found that if we book appointments more than a week ahead we get many more no-shows. This is really frustrating when we have clients whose advice sessions are needlessly delayed.
When I speak to the telephone Assessor, why do I need to answer quite a lot of questions before I can ask my question?
You’ll probably only have to do that once, but you may need to contact us more than once. So we need to find out some basic information first, and record that on our system – (and that information is absolutely confidential.) But it means that if you need to talk to an Adviser, or if you come back to us again later, if the problem doesn’t get solved, we’ve got your unique client number and all the previous information is immediately available. It saves a lot of time for you and for us.
When I rang before, my call was answered by a different Citizens Advice office. Can I still have an appointment at my local office?
Yes. Citizens Advice High Wycombe and District is part of an Adviceline group covering the Buckinghamshire area. This means that all of the offices within this group are able to answer each other’s calls, spending on whose lines are free. If you speak to someone from another office, don’t worry. The Assessor there has all the same information on screen as in our office, and if s/he feels that an appointment is the most suitable next step, we’ll be notified, and we’ll call you within 3 working days.
Why can’t advisers give me legal advice?
Very simply, we’re not lawyers! We can tell you what the law says – whether something is legal or not, in broad terms. But we can’t give a legal opinion about your particular situation. If, after an Adviser appointment, we think you ought to get legal advice, we’ll say so, and there are 4 local firms of solicitors who will give clients we refer to them a free half hour, or telephone advice. They do get booked up early, though, so it’s not likely to be immediately.
Why can’t advisers complete forms for me?
We wish we could. Tax and Benefit claim forms are complicated and more and more are supposed to be done online, which is very hard for some clients who aren’t confident with the internet, or don’t have a computer. However, at this stage we don’t have the facilities or enough staff and volunteers to provide this service. We do know it’s a big issue, though, and Citizens Advice nationally is doing a policy study at the moment, looking at what our organisation could try and do to help. In the meantime we can advise on what to put on the forms; we can sign post you to some other local organisations who can help, and we can show you where to find ‘How To’ guides on reliable sites on the Internet.
What should I bring to an assessment?
Information on what to bring to an assessment is available here