Earlier this month I was privileged to be asked to speak at the Annual General Meeting of Ipswich Citizen’s Advice, writes Cllr David Ellesmere, Leader of Ipswich Borough Council.

This was a special occasion marking 80 years to the day since the opening of the first Citizens Advice Bureaux and 45 years since Citizens Advice opened in Ipswich.

David Ellesmere outside Grafton House
David Ellesmere outside Grafton House

Although CABs had first been recommended in 1924, it was only with the looming prospect of war that they were seriously looked at.

Up to September 1939 there were no bureaux. On 3rd September war was declared and on 4th September the first 200 bureaux opened.

They were set up because it was recognised that the whole way society operated was going to change as a result of the war. And the vast majority of the population had no idea what these changes would involve. They needed advice on how to navigate them.

At the end of the war, although the bureaux were generally regarded as having a much wider benefit than for purely war-related issues Government funding was steadily cut back. From a peak of 1,074 bureaux in 1942, this had fallen to 416 by the 1960’s.

However, a development grant was given by the Government to the National Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux in 1973 and Ipswich’s CAB open in 1974 as a result. They have been helping Ipswich residents ever since.

In recognition of the vital role that Citizens Advice plays, Ipswich Borough Council has prioritised funding for the service.

Our grant to Ipswich Citizens Advice is the largest we give to any single organisation by quite some distance. We have not cut this funding in all the time Labour has been running the Council. This is in marked contrast to Suffolk County Council who are trying to completely axe their support to Citizens Advice in Suffolk.

We are incredibly grateful for the work Citizens Advice has undertaken to help Ipswich residents over the last 45 years.

We are proud to have supported them in that work.

And we are determined that, through our continued support, even though we may not be here in 45 years’ time, Citizens Advice Ipswich will be, and will still be going strong.

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