We are the UK’s largest support network for free, independent advice centres. We were formed in 1979 as the Federation of Independent Advice Centres (FIAC).

The organisation was borne out of independent, community advice centres from around the UK realising they could be stronger together, and creating a national co-ordinating body to increase their effectiveness.

On 28 April 1979, at the Isaac Newton Primary School in North Kensington, London, we launched the new organisation. Delegates from London and major cities represented about half of the 200 or so independent advice projects in existence at that time.

The initial aim was to raise funds to develop common resources such as training, information sources and campaigning. By 1983 the first two paid staff were employed thanks to a grant from the Greater London Council, the first National Director was employed in1989, and all the while membership grew steadily. In 1984, in the midst of the miners’ strike, membership increased by 80%, and by 1994 we had over 800 members. By the new millennium, we had nearly 1,000.

Over the course of our proud, 20-year history, the desired common resources were gradually developed over time to include an insurance scheme, training and qualification routes for advisers and managers, organisational guidance and advice tools such as specialist support, reference works and case-management systems.

These resources supported members in helping more than two million people a year through advice.

However, recent years have seen an uptake in the need for our services, but a decline in the funding needed to offer them. Since the financial crash, we have seen a gradual decline in advice capacity due to the cuts to public spending – which have seen funding for advice reduce by around 30% and the number of services reduce by around 25%.

Nevertheless, our membership has remained surprisingly buoyant thanks to our innovative way of approaching challenges, such as creating projects aimed at filling the gaps left by the closures or mergers of larger organisations. So, independent advice providers continue to innovate as they have done since they initiated advice-work more than 100 years ago.


  • 1979 – FIAC formed as an unincorporated association with approx. 100 members
  • 1983 – First grant income from Greater London Council and first two employees appointed
  • 1988 – Charity registration
  • 1989 – Learning to Advise and Managing to Advise courses developed
  • 1992 – First National Director appointed – separate National and London Units
  • 1994 – Membership exceeds 800
  • 1996 – Steve Johnson appointed as National Director and later first Chief Executive
  • 1997 – Office move to central London premises
  • 1998 – Membership exceeds 900
  • 2000 – FIAC becomes an NVQ assessment centre
  • 2003 – The ‘AdviceUK’ operating name adopted
  • 2004 – Revised Articles adopted and the company and charity names changed to AdviceUK
  • 2006 – Subsidiary company ‘VCS Insurance Ltd’ formed to provide members’ PII cover
  • 2007 – AdvicePro on-line case management system launched
  • 2011 – Subsidiary company ACMS Ltd formed to take over provision of AdvicePro
  • 2011 – Separate London Unit dissolved following partial cuts in London Councils funding
  • 2012 – Closures and mergers of members gather pace as public spending cuts bite
  • 2014 – Revised, more flexible, network membership scheme introduced and Trustees become the only company members
  • 2014 – New corporate strategy adopted emphasising more future income from earnings
  • 2015 – UK AdviceFinder on-line directory acquired, redeveloped and re-launched
  • 2016 – Comprehensive governance review undertaken
  • 2017 – Revised Articles adopted and Board succession plan commenced
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