New scheme Breathing Space launched

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Hundreds of thousands of people struggling with debt problems will be supported through a new debt respite scheme.

Around 700,000 people struggling with problem debt to benefit from Breathing Space this year as the scheme will give those facing financial difficulties 60 days to get finances back on track – without debts piling up, worrying letters or enforcement action.

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

Under the scheme, launched on May 4, people will be given legal protections from their creditors for 60 days, with 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, and the Government expects 700,000 people to benefit in the first year of the scheme.

The standard Breathing Space can be accessed by contacting a professional debt advisor.

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.