Millions of people with problem debt, including those facing mental health problems, will be helped by the government to get their finances under control, by a new 60-day ‘breathing space’ period which 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.
As well as this, those receiving mental health crisis treatment will receive the same protections until their treatment is complete, in acknowledgement of the clear impact problem debt can have on wellbeing.
The impact assessment for breathing space forecasts that it will help over 700,000 people across the UK get professional help in its first year, increasing up to 1.2 million a year by the tenth year of operation.
Of this, 25,000 to 50,000 people in mental health crisis treatment are expected to benefit from breathing space every year.
CEO of StepChange Debt Charity, Phil Andrew, said:
“We know that debt is bad for your mental health, with all the additional stress and anxiety that it can create. Around two in five people who turn to us have an additional vulnerability on top of their debt – and for half of them, that vulnerability is a mental health problem.
“However, the good news is that after debt advice, many people report improvements in their wellbeing such as being able to sleep better at night or cope better with day-to-day life.
“Breathing space will deliver much needed additional help in two important and connected ways. It will encourage more people to seek advice, and when they do, there will be better protections in place to stop further harm and help recovery.”