Burton defends new scheme to deduct water charges from wages and welfare. The Tánaiste Joan Burton defending the controversial new plans by government to deduct unpaid Irish Water bills from wages and welfare payments.

    Ms Burton says the measure is long overdue because it will stop people from going to jail for unpaid bills.

    Opposition parties say the new rules will turn the government and other agencies like private landlords into 'pickpockets'.

    But Ms Burton says the rules are designed to make sure that people who refuse to pay water bills, or other utilities, cannot get away with it.

    Cabinet signed off on plans for a new debt recovery regime for all private debts last night.

    The bill will include provisions to stop imprisoning people for not paying their general civil debts, such as electricity and water charges.

    Instead, attachment orders will be applied to wages and social welfare payments - allowing money be deducted from wages, pensions or welfare payments.

    Sinn Féin's Mary Lou McDonald says it is a "Thatcherite" proposal that must be reconsidered.

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