Fast-track courts to take water bills from wages
A fast-tracked court system will allow unpaid water bills to be automatically deducted from wages and social welfare payments.
The Government plans to introduce tough rules to allow judges to order employers, pension funds and the Department of Social Protection to take the charges directly from income in the event of non-payment.
A new law will allow for Irish Water to apply to the District Court for an attachment order if the utility can provide clear evidence of non-payment:
* proof the money is owed;
* proof the debtor knows the amount has to be paid;
* proof of the failure to pay the bill;
* proof of a formal demand.
The process is intended to be streamlined from the usual cumbersome court system.
The measures come as anti-water charge protesters continue to insist they won't pay. Yet Coalition ministers claim people are coming around to the idea of paying for water.
If the bill is left unpaid for a year and there is no engagement with the utility, a €30 fine will be applied to one-adult households, and €60 for a house with two or more adult occupants.
If the householder continues to refuse to engage, they can be taken to court, where judges will be given the power to order an attachment of earnings, meaning the outstanding charges will be deducted before the defaulter's salary or pension is paid.
The court will also be able to register the charge against the property, preventing it from being sold unless the debt is paid.
People on social welfare will pay a small amount per week leaving them with a minimum of €186 to live on.