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Breathing Space scheme launches to tackle problem debt

A new debt respite scheme will support hundreds of thousands of people struggling with debt problems. Around 700,000 people struggling with problem debt to benefit from Breathing Space this year. The scheme will give those facing financial difficulties 60 days to get finances back on track.

breathing space

Access to the Breathing Space scheme

People will also have access to professional debt advice by contacting a professional debt advisor, with stronger protections for people in mental health crisis treatment. 

Given this may not be possible for someone in mental health crisis treatment, an approved mental health professional can certify they are receiving treatment and then a debt advice provider can consider whether they are eligible for the scheme.

People will be granted legal protections from creditors for 60 days. Most interest and penalty charges frozen, and enforcement action halted. They will also receive professional debt advice to design a plan which helps to get their finances back on track.

Recognising the link between problem debt and mental health issues, these protections will be available for people in mental health crisis treatment for the full duration of their crisis treatment plus another 30 days.

People across England and Wales who are struggling to repay their debts could be eligible. The Government expects 700,000 people to benefit in the first year of the scheme.

Alleviating problem debt

The announcement builds on other recent government work to alleviate problem debt – and the associated mental health problems – including introducing new rules to make debt letters less threatening, funding a no-interest loan pilot, maintaining record levels of debt advice funding for the Money and Pensions Service in 2021-22 and looking at raising the financial threshold criteria for individuals to enter a Debt Relief Order.

Creditors are also set to benefit. Over £400 million in extra debt repayments are expected in the first year of the scheme as people are supported to get their payments back on track.

More information

For more information, visit gov.uk

If you are experiencing mental health issues, get help from a mental health charity helpline

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