The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform is considering a report on the establishment of a State debt collection agency.

If set up the agency would have the power to recover unpaid debts, by taking the money from people's bank accounts or their welfare payments.

Legislation already exists to allow money to be taken from debtors for the non-payment of the Local Property Tax.

The new plan could see that legislation extended to other payments, including outstanding hospital emergency department bills and court fines.

Consultants began their review of debt collection last March, at the request of Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin.

The bodies examined included the Department of Social Protection, the Department of the Environment, the Revenue Commissioners, the Courts Service and the HSE.

A spokesperson for the department said today that it will now engage a project manager to look at the report.

All of the proposals will be examined, taking into consideration funding for the taxpayer and the concerns of people who are struggling to pay bills.

The spokesperson said the minister will examine the findings and report back to Cabinet.