Breathing Space – a government initiative to help people take control of their finances

Being in debt can be a frightening situation for many people particularly if you are being pursued by creditors and penalties are mounting.

Breathing Space, also known as the Debt Respite Scheme, allows you to take time out, seek financial advice and take control of your finances.


There are two types of Breathing Space:

  • Standard Breathing Space - a period of 60 days where no creditor action can be taken to pursue or enforce qualifying debts, and all interest and penalties will cease to accrue on those debts.
  • Mental Health Breathing Space - entitles the person to the same as stated above but with no strict time limits until after the person has recovered from their mental health crisis. To qualify for Mental Health Breathing Space, the individual must have been assessed by an approved mental health practitioner as being in a mental health crisis.

Those seeking to enter the scheme must meet specific criteria and comply with scheme rules whilst in it. To enter, an individual will have to:

  • access free debt advice from a Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) accredited debt adviser
  • be assessed as being in problem debt by a debt adviser
  • not have already been in a Standard Breathing Space period in the previous 12 months (those in mental health crisis will be exempt from the 12-month restriction).

The debt adviser is responsible for determining the debtor’s eligibility to enter the scheme. They will also notify creditors of individuals entering and exiting the scheme.

If you feel that the weight of your debt is becoming too much to bear it’s important to seek free debt advice from a FCA accredited debt adviser as soon as possible.

Free debt advice is available from:

Citizens Advice

  • Call the debt helpline: Tel: 0800 240 4420 available 9am to 8pm Monday to Friday and 9.30am to 1pm Saturday. The debt helpline is not available on public holidays.
    Calls are free from mobiles and landlines.

Relay UK - if you can't hear or speak on the phone, you can type what you want to say: 18001 then 0800 240 4420 You can use Relay UK with an app or a textphone. There’s no extra charge to use it.
Find out how to use Relay UK

Pennysmart – if you’re facing a financial crisis, Pennysmart can support you with budgeting, benefits and debt advice. Tel: 01244 651210

Categories: Financial advice and support
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