New Islington advice centre opens with furniture row

A BRAND new Islington Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) opened in trendy Upper Street this week after a four-year absence.

The independent advice organisation - which offers face-to-face help on benefits, housing, employment and debt problems - is believed to be the first new CAB in London for over 20 years.

Work to prepare the Islington CAB started in January in refurbished offices located alongside the council’s customer reception at 222 Upper Street - and nearly 40 customers were seen on the first day.

Councillor Catherine West, leader of Islington Council, said: “The CAB’s return to Islington with a high street presence hasn’t come a day too soon.

“We’ve found the money and space to bring the service back because we want residents to have the very best advice possible in the face of the harshest government cuts any of us have ever seen.

“We’re expecting CAB staff to be very busy with both drop-ins and casework and are as thrilled as they are about their future helping residents in Islington.”

Alison Lamb, chief executive of Islington CAB said: “Our doors are open and our trained advisors will be on hand to help people who live in Islington with their debt, benefits, employment, housing, discrimination, and many other problems.

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“Last year Citizens Advice Bureaux helped 2.1 million people across England and Wales to solve 7.1 million problems.”

The new facility has also won praise from Councillor Terry Stacy, although the opposition Lib Dem leader could not resist a dig about the money spent on new furniture.

“It’s great to see a Citizens’ Advice Bureau up and running again in Islington but I question whether it was right to blow �34,000 on new tables and chairs,” said councillor Stacy.

“The council is awash with furniture as it downsizes and reduces the number of buildings and staff it uses. Why couldn’t they just reuse some of this furniture?”