Wednesday 21 March 2018

Shatter will target wages to collect fines over non-payment of household charge

Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

PEOPLE who do not pay the household charge will have fines taken straight from their wages or social welfare payments.

The Cabinet has given Justice Minister Alan Shatter the go-ahead to draft the Bill needed to put in place the new system for collecting court fines.

The Fines Amendment Bill will allow the authorities to recover fines from the wages or social welfare payments of people who have refused to pay the €100 household charge.

It means that there will be no need for the courts to send people to jail if they refuse to pay fines of up to €2,500 for non-payment of the household charge.

Judges will instead be able to impose 'attachment orders' on people's wages or order a deduction from their weekly social welfare payments. The bill is due to become law next year.

So far, around one million households -- 65pc -- have paid the charge, with 600,000 refusing to do so.

Mr Shatter has already said that his new legislation can be used to recover fines from people who do not pay the household charge.

But local authorities will have to go to court first -- they cannot deduct the €100 charge from people's earnings directly.

The key aim of the Bill is to reduce the number of people who are sent to prison for failing to pay fines.

The legislation will also allow fines to be paid in instalments.

A spokeswoman for Mr Shatter said more details of the Bill would be released later this week.

Irish Independent

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