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Breathing Space scheme

You could get up to 60 days' respite from interest, fees, and court action to reduce stress and give you time to deal with your debts.

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The Breathing Space scheme is available in England and Wales. In Scotland, the moratorium period is similar, but has different benefits and considerations.

Breathing Space, officially called the Debt Respite Scheme, is a government scheme which could help relieve some of the pressure and stress caused by being in debt. Here, you can find everything you need to know about this scheme, including:

What is Breathing Space?

The Debt Respite Scheme, or Breathing Space aims to help relieve some of the pressure of dealing with your creditors, so you can focus on getting debt advice and setting up your debt solution without worrying about being chased for payment or incurring extra charges.

It's a free scheme, launched by the Government on 4 May 2021.

If you pass the eligibility checks, your creditors won't be able to add interest or fees to your debts, or take enforcement action, for 60 days. You'll still need to keep making your regular payments if you can afford to.

Breathing Space is not a payment holiday, so you'll have to continue paying your debts during this time, but it does prevent action from being taken against you if you’re unable to pay.

Watch the video: What is Breathing Space?

Am I eligible for Breathing Space?

Breathing Space isn't available to everyone. There are certain criteria you need to meet to benefit from the Breathing Space scheme.

To be eligible you must:

  • Live in England or Wales
  • Owe at least one qualifying debt to a creditor

And you must not:

Important reminder: Breathing Space will only protect you for 60 days, so it's important to make sure you complete your debt advice and send in your paperwork as soon as possible, so we can set up your chosen solution.

How do I apply for Breathing Space?

Should you want to apply for Breathing Space, it’s important to know:

  • If you have joint debts, you must tell your partner, and have their consent
  • Some creditors may restrict access to further credit while you’re on Breathing Space
  • You must make sure you tell us about all your debts

If you're eligible and decide to apply, you’ll then be taken through the Breathing Space application process when you get help from us online or by phone.

We'll recommend the best solution for your situation and let you know if you're eligible to apply for the Breathing Space scheme.

Find out if you can get some Breathing Space

When you get free, confidential debt advice, you can check if you’re eligible for 60 days’ Breathing Space, to give you time to focus on setting up a debt solution. Get started now, and we’ll help you through the process.

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Which debts qualify for Breathing Space?

Many debts will qualify for Breathing Space, but there are some exceptions. Take a look at the list below to find out which debts are not eligible.

Which debts don't qualify for Breathing Space?

The following debts are not eligible for Breathing Space:

  • Secured debts (but the arrears on secured debts do qualify)
  • Debts incurred after your Breathing Space started
  • Debts incurred because of fraud
  • Court fines (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

What is Mental Health Crisis Breathing Space (MHCBS)?

MHCBS is a debt respite scheme designed specifically for people receiving mental health crisis treatment.

How is Mental Health Crisis Breathing Space different?

  • 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.

How does the Breathing Space scheme work?

The timeline below shows the Breathing Space process. If you're eligible, you can get free debt advice from us to start your application. Take a look at the eligibility criteria here.

  • Get debt advice

    If you get debt help from us, we’ll check to see if you could benefit from Breathing Space, and if you’re eligible.
  • Apply

    If you're eligible and would like to apply, we’ll submit your application to the Insolvency Service, who administer the scheme.
  • Breathing Space starts

    Once your application is submitted, your Breathing Space will start. This will usually happen within two working days.
  • First 20 days

    During the first 20 days of the scheme, creditors can challenge your application for Breathing Space, as well as specific debts being included in the scheme.
  • Add debts

    You can add a debt to Breathing Space after it has started as long as the debt existed before your Breathing Space began. The protections will then applying for the remainder of the 60 days. For example, if a debt is added to Breathing Space on day 10, protection on that debt would last for 50 days. If a debt was incurred after your Breathing Space started, it can’t be added.
  • Creditors given time to review

    The clock for creditors to challenge the inclusion of a new debt restarts when the new debt is added, but this only applies for the new debt, with protection still in place for other debts.
  • 30 day review

    After 30 days, we’ll review of your situation. In most cases, this will result in the scheme continuing for the full 60 days, but Breathing Space could be cancelled or specific debts could be removed in certain circumstances.

How could Breathing Space help me deal with my debts?

Breathing Space could help relieve some of the pressure of dealing with creditors, and provide protection from interest and fees for its duration.

This should give you time to get debt advice and set up a solution to deal with your debts.

If you want to get your finances back on track, get free, debt advice by calling 0800 138 1111 and you could apply for Breathing Space to take the pressure off while you get the help you need.

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If you need help with your finances, get free, confidential debt advice online or on the phone today. We'll find the best solution for your situation and help you apply for Breathing Space if you choose to.

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