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What happens during Breathing Space

How to keep your Breathing Space on track while you find the right debt solution.

England and Wales only

Breathing Space usually lasts for 60 days. It is easy to set up and starts soon after you apply. The people you owe cannot contact you for payment during this time.

During Breathing Space, there are rules for:

  • You
  • The people you owe
  • The debt advice provider that sets up your Breathing Space

This page explains the whole process and answers some common questions.

In Scotland, you may be able to apply for a "debt moratorium period". It is similar to Breathing Space but affects you in different ways.

About Breathing Space

Breathing Space is a free government scheme that stops you being chased for debts.

How do I set up Breathing Space?

It can be quick to apply for Breathing Space.

Step 1: Fill in your details so we can check if you can apply.

We need your:

  • Full name
  • Date of birth
  • Home address
  • Details of your debts
  • The name and contact details for the people you owe

Step 2: We send your application to the Insolvency Service

Step 3: They add your details to their register by the end of the next working day

Step 4: Your Breathing Space starts the next day

The people you owe must:

  • Stop any interest and charges right away
  • Pause any action to collect the debt

If they do not do this:

  • Any action taken cannot be enforced
  • Any charges taken are repaid to you

You cannot make a joint application for Breathing space.

You and your partner can both apply if you want to.

You are both protected if a joint debt is in your partner's Breathing Space too.

In some cases, the people you owe may object to:

  • Your Breathing Space or,
  • The inclusion of a debt in your Breathing Space

We look into it if this happens.

We will get in touch with you if:

  • We need information
  • We think there will be an impact on your Breathing Space

The people you owe can also ask a court to:

  • Allow them to add interest and fees
  • Take action to collect debt

What do I do during Breathing Space?

Make sure you:

  • Keep getting debt advice
  • You must aim to set a debt solution
  • Tell your debt advice provider if anything changes
  • Keep up regular payments
  • This includes:

  • Rent or mortgage
  • Taxes
  • Energy and water bills
  • Insurance policies
  • Do not take out more credit
  • You cannot borrow more than £500 either

  • On your own or
  • With another person

Your Breathing Space may be cancelled if you do not do these.

Need some Breathing Space?

Get free, confidential debt advice to see if you can apply

Get debt help

How does StepChange support me during Breathing Space?

StepChange supports you by:

1. Giving you advice

  • We help you to finish debt advice
  • We suggest options based on what you tell us

2. Setting up your debt solution

  • You pick a debt solution that works for you
  • We help you get your finances back on track

3. Staying in contact

  • We check to see how you are
  • We review your Breathing Space after 30 days
  • We tell you how changes may affect your Breathing Space
  • We tell you if there is anything you need to do

What do the people I owe do during my Breathing Space?

During Breathing Space, the people you owe must:

  • Find your account and any debts
  • They must tell us about anything that is not in your application so you can add it
  • Stop adding interest and fees to included debts
  • Stop enforcement action on included debts
  • Stop asking you for payments on included debts
  • Stop agents they sent to collect money
  • This could be debt collectors or bailiffs
  • They must tell them your Breathing Space covers these debts

Some of the people you owe may pause or cancel your Direct Debit payments.

  • This could add missed payments to your credit file
  • This makes it harder to take out new credit

Set up new payments if you can afford them.

Can the people I owe take any action against me during Breathing Space?

Enforcement action may still be taken if:

Any cases that start before your Breathing Space can be picked up when it ends.

Sometimes cases do not restart until a court orders it.


Statute Barred Debts

The time limit for taking legal action may end during your Breathing Space period.

It extends for eight weeks after your Breathing Space ends.

Find out more

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Katelyn on Feefo says:

"Amazing. Thank you!"

"Highly recommend looking at Step Change for anyone worried about their debt and putting it off like I did. Very professional and helpful and easy to use...Step Change are so helpful and understanding."

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Common Breathing Space questions

You can have Breathing Space once every 12 months.

No. You cannot get Breathing Space on Universal Credit Advance or Social Fund Payments.

You need to tell your debt advice provider if anything changes.

Your Breathing Space is only affected if you do not meet the rules any more.

Your debt advice provider can check this with you.

You cannot request to cancel your Breathing Space.

But it can be cancelled by:

  • The people you owe asking for a review 
  • A Court order
  • Your debt advice provider after the midway review 

It cannot be reinstated if it ends for any reason.

Breathing Space lasts for 60 days if it is not cancelled.  

Debt happens. We deal with it.

We have helped millions of people since 1993.

Find out how.

"StepChange - What A Relief"

"Would recommend StepChange to anyone who is struggling with debt. Their advisers are empathic and will bend over backwards to find the right solution for you."

Amanda, Feefo Review

Need some Breathing Space?

Get free, confidential debt advice to see if you can apply

Get debt help