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Breathing Space draft regulations published

Written by: Emma Lunn
Debt charity StepChange has welcomed the next step in helping people resolve debt problems.

The government outlined how Breathing Space regulations would work in February, and has now published draft regulations titled The Debt Respite Scheme (Breathing Space Moratorium and Mental Health Crisis Moratorium) (England and Wales) Regulations 2020.

The government has confirmed that the new scheme will go live on 4 May 2021.

The 60-day breathing space period will see enforcement action from creditors halted and interest frozen for people with problem debt.

During this period, individuals will receive professional debt advice to find a long-term solution to their financial difficulties.

Those people receiving mental health crisis treatment will receive the same protections until their treatment is complete.

StepChange was at the forefront of calling for  Breathing Space, having been campaigning for this measure for the past five years.

The charity says it is delighted to see the government following through on its commitment to introduce the scheme, and on the primary legislation to enable it.

It says the steps taken so far demonstrate an increasingly enlightened approach to the treatment of people experiencing debt problems, better focused on helping them resolve their difficulties.

Peter Tutton, StepChange head of policy, said: “We look forward to working on the detail of implementation constructively with the government, to ensure that it fully meets the policy objectives of getting more people to the debt advice that they need, and then giving them a period of calm in which to begin the process of reaching a suitable solution to their problems without fear, harassment, intimidation or escalating cost.

“There is still more that government can do to help support the increasingly enlightened approach to debt that the Breathing Space scheme augurs – in particular, by ensuring that government’s own debt management practices are improved so that they don’t lag behind those in the regulated consumer sector.

“We are hugely encouraged that this is the direction of travel in which public policy is heading, especially as the pandemic has laid bare the extreme fragility of the nation’s household finances.”

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