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Breathing Space

Get a break from from interest, fees, and court action for up to 60 days. This quiet time reduces stress and gives you a chance to deal with your debt.

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The Breathing Space scheme is available in England and Wales.

Breathing Space in Scotland is called the 'moratorium period'. It has different risks and benefits.

What is Breathing Space?

Breathing Space gives you a break from being chased for debt.

It is a free, government scheme. Also called the Debt Respite Scheme.

For up to 60 days, the people you owe cannot:

  • Add interest or fees to your debts
  • Take enforcement action
  • Contact you other than regular statements and auto-generated messages

This helps you focus on:

Breathing Space is not a payment holiday.

You still need to make regular payments if you can afford to.

But your creditors cannot take action against you if you cannot pay.

This is different from Mental Health Crisis Breathing Space. See below.

Watch the video: What is Breathing Space?

How do I apply for Breathing Space

The application process looks like this:

1. Get debt advice

  • Debt help gives you options
  • Your budget shows if Breathing Space would help you

2. Apply

  • Submit your application to the Insolvency Service
  • We can do this for you- usually within 2 working days

Breathing Space starts once you submit your application.

Breathing Space is not available to everyone.

You must:

  • Live in England or Wales
  • Have at least one unsecured debt

You must not:

You cannot get Breathing Space for these debts:

  • Secured debts. But the arrears on secured debts can be included
  • Debts you run up after your Breathing Space has started
  • Debts caused by committing fraud
  • Court fines. But penalty charge notices like parking tickets do qualify
  • Obligations from a confiscation order
  • Child maintenance or money owed under an order from family court proceedings
  • A crisis or budgeting loan
  • Student loans
  • Personal injury damages
  • Advance payments on Universal Credit
  • Council tax liabilities that are not due yet

Can I get Breathing Space?

We will take you through the application process when you get help from us.

It is important to:

  • Tell your partner if you have joint debts with them. You will need their consent
  • While you are on Breathing Space, you might not be able to get more credit from creditors for debts included in your Breathing Space
  • You must make sure you tell us about all your debts

Get started now

We will help you through the process.

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What is Mental Health Crisis Breathing Space (MHCBS)?

This is a debt help scheme for people having mental health crisis treatment.

  • Your mental health breathing space lasts as long as your mental health crisis, plus 30 days
  • You'll need an Approved Mental Health Professional (AMHP) to provide evidence you are receiving mental health crisis treatment
  • You don't have to get debt advice
  • You can have a mental health crisis breathing space anytime you have crisis treatment

Who can access Mental Health Crisis Breathing Space?

MHCBS is only available to residents of England and Wales with at least one qualifying debt to a creditor and if they're receiving mental health crisis treatment. This means you are either:

  • Detained under the Mental Health Act (this is also known as being sectioned)
  • Removed to a place of safety under the Mental Health Act
  • Receiving crisis care in hospital or the community from a specialist mental health team such as the crisis team or the home treatment team

Visit the Mental Health and Money Advice website to find out more and check if you can access the scheme.

Common Breathing Space questions

With a payment holiday, you do not pay anything to your creditors. But:

  • Interest and charges may continue to be added and
  • You need to make up the missed payments in the future

Payment holidays are agreed between you and your lender. You cannot take a payment holiday if they do not agree to one.

Breathing Space does not stop your payments from becoming due. You still need to make them.


  • Interest and charges are frozen
  • Your creditors cannot demand repayments

You apply for Breathing Space via a debt advisor, who registers your details with the Insolvency Service.

Your creditors must comply with Breathing Space.

Breathing Space is administered by the Insolvency Service, a government agency.

They register people on Breathing Space and notify their creditors.

They also send out communications when Breathing Space ends after 60 days.

Some debts are not included in Breathing Space.

These are usually debts that are not in bankruptcy or other formal debt solutions, like:

Your debt advice provider will discuss what to do about debts that cannot be included while you are registering on the scheme.

Breathing Space does not directly affect your credit score, but missed payments are recorded on your credit file.

Breathing Space is not recorded on your credit file, but if a creditor knows about it, this may affect your ability to borrow from them.

Being self-employed does not necessarily mean you could not get Breathing Space, but we cannot help with your application.

We usually refer self-employed people to Business Debtline, another charity. They provide specialist debt advice for the self-employed.

They can assist you with:

  • Your eligibility for Breathing Space
  • Your subsequent application process

After Breathing Space ends, your creditors can start contacting you again and take further action on your debts.

Any action that paused because of Breathing Space may resume.

You should continue working on getting your debt solution in place, so that you have a longer-term plan to deal with your debts.

Anne on Feefo says:

Excellent, sympathetic company.

A very helpful company at the end of the phone. You don’t feel alone When you get in touch with them. They put your mind at rest.

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