YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE ACCOMPANIED TO JOB CENTRE INTERVIEWS - and that's official!

Mr Bill Wilson, Jobcentreplus District Manager for Edinburgh, Lothians and Borders, has stated "there will always be times when customers feel the need to be supported by a friend or advice worker and we will always try to accommodate this, whenever possible."  (letter to Edinburgh Claimants 18.11.2008)

Mr Wilson wrote this letter in response to an Edinburgh Claimants official complaint.  On 30th October a manager and security guards tried to stop one of our advice workers accompanying a claimant to an interview at Leith Job Centre - they failed in this attempt and had to back down, and now the top manager for the District has apologised to Edinburgh Claimants. It is clear that everyone has the right to be accompanied to any interview to do with benefits.

Edinburgh City finance committee disrupted

Members of Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty disrupted the Finance and Resources Committee meeting at the City Chambers on Tuesday 11th November, after the committee agreed to the second phase of the aggressive collection of council tax arrears, which the group argue is unjust. Angry protests from the public benches forced the Councillors to temporarily abandon the City of Edinburgh Council meeting.

ECAP made a deputation to the Committee demanding an end to the new aggressive policy of debt recovery that the council is pursuing, arguing that it intimidates people into paying more than they can afford, and brings unnecessary stress and financial strain to low income families struggling to pay their council tax.

Councillor Mackenzie surprised by anti-Council-Tax campaigners.

50 members of the community group Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty surprised City finance leader Gordon Mackenzie at his surgery yesterday evening, demanding that he stop persecuting low income people struggling to pay their council tax.

ECAP presented Mackenzie, the architect of the new aggressive and imoral council tax arrears recovery,  with a large mock 'final notice' letter. The letter warned him of his impending 'moral bankruptcy', and demanded that he end to the intimidation and harassment of low income families.

A Spokesperson for ECAP told a stunned and largely silent Mackenzie: “a large number of people are being targeted by your Sheriff Officers, and these people are being made to feel scared and intimidated in their own homes. We want this harassment stopped immediately”, to which Mackenzie replied: “It is council policy".

With this action, ECAP are starting a campaign or resistance against sheriff officer harassment, and against the unfair Council Tax, and campaigning for a fairer tax, based on what people can afford.

ECAP consider it shocking that a councillor is bullying and intimidating people on low incomes into paying an unjust tax that is planned to be scrapped anyway. In the current economic crisis, households on low incomes are struggling with rising food prices and fuel poverty, and worrying about how secure their home and job is.

Support one another by joining the Solidarity Phone Tree

Please join our phone tree and help provide support for people who are having serious problems with authorities, eg the Council, Sheriff officers, benefits office, utility companies etc.

Your commitments would be:

1.  Getting an occasional phone call – almost always daytime or early evening - informing you of a solidarity activity - you are under no obligation to attend if it is not convenient for you.  If you can make it then you go to the location where people are needed – eg a benefit office, a workplace, a Council or other office, or it could be someone's home, where sheriff officers are due to visit.

2. Calling the next number on the phone tree list, to tell them about the solidarity activity.

3. Joining the email list, where you would recieve regular updates about ECAP campaigns and solidarity actions.

When it comes to solidarity we need as many people as possible, ready to support one another.

Contact ECAP to join.

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:

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