Don't be intimidated by Sheriff Officer bullies

Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty is organising opposition to a Council clamp-down against people who owe council tax.
 
Within the last fortnight people have contacted Edinburgh Claimants who have been subjected to outrageous treatment by sheriff officers collecting council tax arrears on behalf of the City of Edinburgh Council. This includes:

- a young man threatened by sheriff officers at his door that unless he paid them around 189 pounds in cash immediately, then they could come in and take his possessions. What's more, they threatened, if you try to stop us, we will call the police and you could be arrested (this of course was a lie, sheriffs only have power to force entry to your home after a special court hearing has granted a special attachment order). Terrified, the young man and his girlfriend paid the money on the doorstep in cash, leaving themselves penniless, with no money even to buy food for their baby.
- people who have been paying their current Council Tax, and also paying a regular sum every month to their council tax arrears, as an agreed payment plan with Scott and co, suddenly facing a demand to drastically increase their payments. When people have provided evidence that this was impossible - some of them have been threatened with sequestration and thus the potential loss of their home .
 
We have discovered that Edinburgh City Council have adopted a new recovery plan for council tax arrears. This involves them branding an unknown but seemingly large number of people - probably thousands of people - as "can pay, wont pays" and then aiming to force these people to pay off their arrears within 12 months. Since many people have alleged debts of thousands of pounds, this is impossible for people to do. This policy was adopted at a council meeting back in January - we are investigating further. We need to urgently publicise what people can do to resist these attacks, and discuss the most effective measures and actions we can take.
 
If sheriff officers turn up at your door - don't let them in, don't speak to them, and certainly don't give them any money. They have NO legal right to force entry into your home without a court hearing having granted a "Special Attachment Order" - you would have been informed of the court hearing, as you have the right to contest the application.
 
If you get a threatening letter from sheriff officers or the Council, don't panic and pay more than you can afford. Contact us for advice and support.

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EDINBURGH COALITION AGAINST POVERTY is based at the Autonomous Centre of Edinburgh (ACE), an open campaign space & infoshop providing resources and solidarity. Resources available include free computer/internet access, cheap copying, free leaflets, books, pamphlets and mags for sale, and a library. Every Tuesday from 12 to 3pm support and solidarity is available for benefits, debt hassles, housing and other problems. Please contact us at Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty c/o ACE, 17 West Montgomery Place, Edinburgh EH7 5HA, 0131 557 6242 or ecap@lists.riseup.net. We invite you to join our solidarity phone tree and get involved. ACE is also open at other times for particular events (but the support and solidarity sessions are only on Tuesday).