How to: Breathing Space

18 February 2020

There’s been a lot of talk about ‘breathing space’ recently. Simply put, it’s a period of time for clients to get some advice and work out the best way to deal with debt. It helps to focus on what to do next – having time to find out about available options.

And, when someone is juggling other issues, coping with debt can be even harder. That’s why at PayPlan we have a specialist team with experience and skills to help people in particularly vulnerable situations find the right solution.

“Money issues prey on people’s minds and can drastically impact their wellbeing. Debt is a vicious circle and living in financial stress can lead to mental health problems. “The problem then tends to escalate because those dealing with mental health find it difficult to cope with finances.” Jane Goodland, Quilter

Most creditors offer breathing space, especially larger organisations. To make sure people are treated fairly, codes of practice are also in place. In the long term, creditors stand to gain more by giving time to look into getting the right advice to sort out debts.

The law is changing…

We understand that being in debt affects mental health, mood and overall wellbeing. In fact, we were part of the government’s consultation back in 2017 on how to make things better. The new rules will make it easier for vulnerable people facing problem debt to get the help they need in the way they need it.

From early 2021, clients will be allowed 60 days of breathing space instead of 30. The government has recognised that more needs to be done both to help stop people getting into problem debt (see the new changes to credit card payments) and to support them more effectively when they do.

“Being trapped in debt can be an incredibly difficult experience, and with interest and potential enforcement action to contend with, it’s no surprise how stressful the impact can be. That’s why we will introduce breathing space in early 2021, so we can level up the whole country and help millions of people to rid themselves of problem debt.” John Glen, Economic Secretary to the Treasury

Taking extra pressure off

If someone is receiving ongoing treatment on the NHS for mental health issues, breathing space protection will last until the treatment is complete. According to government predictions, 25,000 to 50,000 people in mental health crisis treatment are expected to benefit from breathing space every year.

Clients don’t need to wait until 2021 to benefit from breathing space. If someone is having problems now, they should start by making their creditors aware. Let them know about the situation. The best way to do to this is by email, letter or phone. If you’re not sure what to say to them, give the PayPlan team a call on 0800 280 2816.

To help reduce the pressure clients are under, we can speak creditors on their behalf. When your creditors know their clients are working with PayPlan, it’s more likely they’ll give breathing space, to allow time to find the right debt solution.

Expert help when people need it most

Emma Gibbons heads up our Vulnerable Client Team and has lots of experience helping people juggling debt with especially difficult circumstance. These might include low income, learning or physical disabilities and mental health conditions, terminal cancer, Parkinson’s disease or situations like domestic violence, imprisonment and bereavement.

We know everyone’s different; that’s why we like to provide debt help in a way that suits the individual. If phone conversations aren’t for your client, they can simply check our simple online debt solution tool, PlanFinder. Alternatively, give one of our friendly advisers on 0800 280 2816. Our opening hours are 8am to 8pm, Monday to Friday, and 9am to 3pm on Saturdays.


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