Breathing Space regulations herald welcome relief ahead to help people resolve debt problems, says StepChange

StepChange Debt Charity warmly welcomes the publication of the draft regulations to implement a Breathing Space scheme that will give people in debt a better chance to stabilise their finances, with the benefit of debt advice, through a 60-day moratorium on interest, charges and enforcement action while they do. The Government has confirmed that the new scheme will go live on 4 May 2021.

StepChange was at the forefront of calling for the Breathing Space, having been campaigning for this measure for the last five years. The charity is delighted to see the Government following through on its commitment to introduce the scheme, and on the primary legislation to enable it, both of which demonstrate an increasingly enlightened approach to the treatment of people experiencing debt problems, better focused on helping them resolve their difficulties. This will, in due course, receive further impetus through the introduction of statutory debt repayment plans.

StepChange Head of Policy Peter Tutton says: “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.”