The Debt Respite Scheme (Breathing Space)
Breathing Space is a new scheme that gives applicants time to take steps towards managing their debt by:
- temporarily halting enforcement action from creditors
- freezing interest and fees for a set period
There are 2 options available under this scheme:
- Standard Breathing Space
- Mental health crisis Breathing Space
Standard breathing space
This option is available to any resident with a qualifying debt who meets the eligibility criteria.
Standard Breathing Space awards successful applicants with a 60-day period in which interest and fees associated with qualifying debts will be paused, while the individual receives professional debt advice to find a long-term solution to their financial difficulties.
Please note you must continue to make certain types of payments, including ongoing housing costs, utility bills and taxes.
Mental health crisis breathing space
This option is available to anyone with a qualifying debt who is receiving mental health crisis treatment.
Under the mental health crisis Breathing Space scheme, successful applicants will be granted a pause on interest and fees associated with qualifying debts for the duration of their crisis treatment, plus 30 days.
An approved mental health professional (AMHP) will need to confirm you are receiving crisis care. You can then apply for the scheme yourself by contacting a debt advisor, or someone else can apply on your behalf (such as a carer, social worker, or mental health nurse).
A nominated person will need to keep your debt adviser updated about your ongoing treatment, but you are not required to seek debt advice.
You can also apply for this type of Breathing Space more than once a year.
To qualify for both types of Breathing Space, you need to owe one or more of the qualifying debts and must not be using any other formal type of debt solution, such as Debt Relief Order, Individual Voluntary Arrangement or bankruptcy.
Qualifying debts include, but are not limited to:
- credit cards
- personal loans
Other household debts, such as rent arrears, fuel arrears and Council Tax arrears also qualify.
Some of the debts that do not qualify for Breathing Space include:
- court fines
- universal credit advance payments
- student loans
Secured debts like mortgages or car finance will not qualify unless you’ve fallen into arrears on your payments.
How to apply
Mental Health Crisis
To apply for a Mental Health Crisis Breathing Space please complete the online form.
You will be contacted and advised of the outcome of your referral.
Standard Breathing Space Scheme
If you want to find out more about the Standard Breathing Space scheme and apply, please contact a debt advisor or one of the organisations below. They will be able to give you free and confidential debt advice and support. If you’re eligible for the scheme, the debt adviser will submit an application to the Insolvency Service on your behalf.
Phone: 0800 138 1111
View the StepChange website
Phone: 0800 111 6768
View the National Debtline website